Monday, December 29, 2014

Careful The Things You Say...

Twenty years ago ... it's strange to see that in writing but it is nonetheless the truth ... I was lucky enough to perform in a production of Into The Woods. We had a tremendous cast, great costumes and a lot of fun. I mean, playing Cinderella can't be anything but ... right?

Well, twenty years later the lessons taught by the songs and script in that musical still resonate with me. And perhaps this is the case never before as much as they caught me unawares this year. Kinda ironic, considering the play just came out as a movie. Or, perhaps, I'm just more self-aware now. Perhaps I'm just more "in tune" to the subtle and not so subtle "nudges" from the Universe. (No pun intended.)

Last January in my post "The White Shirt," I announced that I had chosen One Thing for 2014. A word. I selected a personal theme for the year and my role in it. In my first draft, I shared the word. Then, I decided to keep that to myself and edited it out. Well, my reading friends, the secret is out. I was going to Shine.

That's it. And for someone who likes sparkles, glitter and bling the way that I do, I didn't imagine that would be as difficult a task as it turned out to be. I didn't realize that by saying that out loud, I was throwing caution to the wind and daring the Universe to thwart my ambition. To challenge me.

But, as the Witch in Into The Woods stated, "Careful the things you say ..." See, the Universe listened. But the result for 2014 was NOT what I envisioned when the word popped into my head. It was NOT what I expected. It was NOT what I had planned. I mean ... expectations are great but they don't always unfold they way we "expect" them to ...

2014 wasn't a "terrible" year for me, as years go. It was fine. But it was a bit of a let-down in many ways. There were very few personal highlights and more disappointments for me than I like to experience or admit. Some losses devastated me for a time. Some sent me off-line and off the grid. Some stress pushed me beyond what I liked to manage. Some struggles I would have preferred to avoid. Some family challenges and health stuff that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

So there it is. I said I was gonna Shine and ... well ... I don't really feel like I did anything of the sort in 2014 ........... BUT ...

... and this is when the Witch's Wisdom hit me  ....

Careful the things you say ...  

You can't Shine in the bright light.

Your glow is invisible in the light of day.

I mean, who sees the stars in the daylight? Other than the Sun, there isn't a visible star out there. And the moon needs the light from the sun reflecting off the earth to glow.

When everything is crystal clear and perfect, there's no place to Shine. You HAVE to Shine in Darkness. And only in the deepest depths of night, does your glow reach its maximum potential.

This I did not consider. This I did not take into account.

But, ya know ... even in the worst moments of 2014, I did what I'd set out to do. I sparkled. I spoke words I might not have spoken. I made discoveries I might not have made. I connected with people that I lost for a time. I found my authentic self -- bruised and battered at times -- but I know who I am today because of it and I'm good with that. See no matter the "stuff," I let my light Shine. I didn't turn off or give up. And I made some personal advancements and came to peace with my true self as I fought my way through the dark ... discoveries that I might never have made if things had gone the way I had planned them to go. 

If I'd tried to Shine in the Sunlight, no one would have noticed. I wouldn't have grown at all.

Oh, I didn't get all the parts and the issues I dealt with were still issues I had to deal with ... but, I didn't cave. I didn't back down. I didn't hide my light, I battened down the hatches and glowed in the night sky.

See, this little light of mine, can only Shine in the deepest darkness. So all the stuff that happened that I didn't like just taught me to Shine through it. I didn't give in or give up or hide my light. Perhaps that's what 2014 was meant to teach me all along ... to Shine no matter how dark things seemed. And only when I got that, did the Universe nod my way and offer a last minute gift.

So, 2015 is upon us. My One Choice or Word isn't the same. But that's a different blog for a different time.

The moral of This Story ... Careful the Things You Say. The Universe is listening. And the outcome of your Wish may not be as you envisioned it to be.

But, it will be what you Need it to be.
                                                                                                                               -- Jenni

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Day But Today

“There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret-- or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today …” 
                                   - Rent

December has arrived, bringing the Christmas Holiday List along with it. I’m sure you can relate. My calendar is dominated by Have To events, including my son’s swim practices, social plans and meets, my daughter’s dance and choir commitments, my husband’s work party and Scout commitments and my own holiday rehearsal, performance and auditions. I think you could create an actual image if you connected the dots on my calendar!

Deep breath ….

Before my heart begins to race though, I want to talk about what I learned in Therapy this past Saturday.

Yes. Therapy. I’ve been attending sessions for over two years now and they have had a tremendous impact on my Anxiety Level, Perspective and Self-Judgment. In fact, through regular attendance – I go 2-3 times per week – I have found a path to acceptance and peace regarding my own personal idiosyncrasies and drama. I mean, what IS Normal nowadays?

My Therapy does Not involve a couch. It’s a group gig. It’s organic and unique session to session. Sometimes it’s even sweaty. I wear cute outfits and do some serious visualization and breathing exercises in preparation and even during my sessions. But my Therapy takes place on a Mat. In a very warm room. On a hardwood floor.

My Therapy is Yoga.

I’ve talked about Yoga before. But something pretty awesome this past Saturday came to my attention. It probably wasn’t something I didn’t know. No, it definitely wasn’t something I didn’t know. But I guess it was something I needed to hear.

There is no Later. There is only Now. And all we need to do is offer Now our very best.

That resonated with me and hit me hard. Especially at this time of the year when we are all rushing about trying to check off lists, get stuff done and buy gifts for “later.” See, I realized if I’m constantly worried about what is next, I’m not making the most of what is Now. And, I just might miss something.

There’s no guaranteed later. There’s no promise that Tomorrow will bring something better. Anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one or faced a surprise illness knows that Tomorrow isn’t necessarily another day where we can take care of things. Tomorrow is uncertain.

In Yoga – as in life – there is this tendency to think ahead. To anticipate the next move or pose. But, frankly, there’s no guarantee that the next pose will offer any less challenge or relief. What comes next may not be easier or more comfortable for us. During class, we make the most of Each Individual Moment in Time as they happen We do our best as we ease into or hold a pose. And when we shake, sweat or struggle, we grow stronger and truly exist in that precise moment. That's what we carry out of class with us at the end.

Our minds try to distract us. My mind is Crazy. I have this “room-mate” in my mind who constantly chatters at me and challenges me and works to distract me. If she were corporal, she would SO not be my friend. She gives me more drama and doubt than any friend should. I try to silence her. To block out her words. But she’s still there nonetheless.

But during Yoga, I’m able to focus instead on the challenge of the Present. I’m able to quiet that voice in my head. I’m able to see the Now and set aside all the bullshit that tries to distract me.

I take Slow Flow Therapy … er, Yoga. In Slow Flow, you don’t memorize poses or sequences – called “Flows.” You stay in your moment and wait for the guidance, wisdom and instruction from your Teacher. And that way, you go deeper within to find strength. In your Now, there is no Later to deal with. Sure you still have stress, fear, sadness, worries, desires, passions and doubts.

But they don’t beat you.

Oh, you may carry them in and out of class – heck, I know I carry them in and out of lots of classes. But as I shake in a pose or wobble in a balance move, I do my best to find calm and serenity – and a strong element of joy as I realize all that I can do right in that moment – even with the baggage. Balancing on one leg in what is known as Airplane (but I term “Angel Pose”), I find strength and acceptance for the unique individual I am. And I honor myself -- foibles and all -- as I stand in the light.

In Yoga this Saturday, Suzanne reminded me that There isn’t a Later. All we have is Now. And that means I need to focus on the Present. Honor myself for my Sparkles, Struggles and Scars. And if there is only now … today … this minute … I need to be myself and love my way.

I used to think that Therapy – Yoga – would “Fix” me. Sure, it’s exercise and that in itself is good for me. But my hours at the Yoga Shelter give me more than a good workout. They empower me to love myself as I am and accept my little craziness and unique view of the world. I find joy in the lessons learned. And I honor the people who come in and out of my life and enjoy our time together as it comes … when it comes … if it comes.

In Yoga, I’ve learned not to fight Gravity, but instead go deeper inside to find my strength. I resist trying to control everything and instead accept the uniqueness of others too. I’ve learned to smile as I shake. I’ve learned that if I lose my balance and fall, I can stand up and try again.

And in Yoga, I’ve learned that Time is fleeting. That This Moment is all we have. There is no Later. So, I intend to make the most of each Moment I have …

And when I start tackling that crazy List and rushing my kids and self around town, I’m going to smile and enjoy every Now I get. I’ll be the woman smiling as I stand in that really long line. I’ll be the woman who stops to buy her Peppermint Mocha even though it will mean a wait. I’ll be the woman singing as I dodge the crazy, desperate shoppers.

I might even be the woman who takes a moment to reach out to you. Because Now is all I get. You may not have time or choose to make time. That's okay. But, I hope you feel a little bit of sparkly energy coming your way to remind you … There’s only us. There’s only this. Forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other day.

No day but today...”

                                                                                                                     -- Jenni

Monday, November 24, 2014

Am I The Monster or The Creator?

Have you ever read Frankenstein? Today’s current monster fascination has delved thoroughly into zombies, werewolves and vampires but left the lurking Creature revived using dead parts out of popular culture. I was thrilled to see the recent live broadcast of London’s 2011 National Theatre production which featured Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. It was anything but what I expected.

Mary Shelley was ahead of her time. Not only was she a woman writing about a man’s world but she dared to explore scientific concepts few women of her time would have even comprehended. She wrote passionately and asked questions as she examined the consequences when Man plays God.

The story, in its simplest terms, spotlights urgent concerns of scientific responsibility and partners them with issues of parental neglect, cognitive development and the nature of good and evil. All these themes embedded within a thrilling and deeply disturbing classic Gothic masterpiece.

In the recent National Theatre broadcast, two popular screen actors most widely known for their current day portrayals of Sherlock Holmes took on the Frankenstein challenge. And, to better understand both Victor Frankenstein and his Creature, the actors alternated roles for each performance.

Imagine the challenges to an actor … learning both roles and playing both roles during the run of a live theatrical production. One night to the next … Monster to Creator ... Creator to Monster.  It would give the actors a chance to acquire complete understanding of the motivation and emotional state of both characters. They could then learn from each other and incorporate that duality into their portrayals.

Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered Creature is literally born on stage in the National Theatre’s production. He is then cast out into a hostile world by his horror-struck (yet brilliant) master, the compelling, driven Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, this friendless Creature – who due to treatment received becomes increasingly desperate and vengeful – determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.  And his Creator, already tormented by what he has dared to do, is faced with yet another opportunity to play God.

We do that daily … play God. We toy with science and essentially create “life.” And though I wonder at the choices we’ve made and are making, I find myself drawn to the Creature. After all, it is Man that makes him into a Monster.

Frankenstein’s Creature is as innocent as a babe from the womb. Though he appears horrifically ugly, his character and personality begin as a clean slate. But the cruelty and brutality inflicted upon him inevitably transform him into the terrible Monster that inspires fear. His Creator rejects him and hurls this fundamentally defenseless being into a harsh world. Is it any wonder he becomes what he becomes?

It is the World that makes him into the monster. It is fear of his grotesque appearance that inspires judgment and physical abuse – he is different and therefore dangerous. Only a blind man is able to “see” beyond external ugliness to honor the curious and fundamentally good being that exists on the inside. 

It is the World that turns the Creature into a malevolent force. Unkindness. Rejection. Silence. Physical Abuse. That was all the Creature encountered. There was no soft touch or kind word. It was not offered positive reinforcement or supportive encouragement. It was not embraced by its Father or the world into which it found itself. And when rejection and cruelty are the only elements to which one is exposed … how can the end result be different? The Creature had not developed the cognitive ability to reason … to process and overcome the impacts of harsh remarks and ugly behavior. And its personality and ultimate choices were made based solely on what it learned from others … on the treatment it received.

Do I do that? Do I reflect that? Do I absorb the negative elements of a bad day or unkindness from another? Do I pass that along with my behavior onto the people who surround me? Am I cruel to another as a result of cruelty I experience? When put to the test, am I really evolved enough to move beyond my own emotional triggers? Do I somehow reflect the desperation, cruelty, judgement, voyeurism, dismissiveness and brutality around me?

I like to think I can set aside those darker aspects of my nature and brush aside the impacts of negative experiences that try to touch me. But, I know that isn’t always the case. Sometimes these wounds assume a life of their own, infecting me and bubbling under the surface. And sometimes they find a way of getting out.

If someone is dismissive of me, do I then dismiss the innocently presented ideas of my kids? If someone is mean to me, do I set aside the effects of that unkindness before dealing with the next life challenge? Or, like the Creature, do I absorb that into my own being and allow it to infect my personality development and behavior?

Frankenstein’s Creature wanted Love and Acceptance from his Creator. Pretty simple stuff. He wanted someone to love him as he was. If he'd received it, I dare to suggest that he might have been very different. His childlike innocence believed this was possible. But the actions of Dr. Frankenstein did not reflect his hope. It condemned both of them to isolation.

The director’s placement of the actors into both roles was an act of sheer brilliance. They learned to see into the heart and mind of another and used that in their developments and performances. It gave them better appreciation for both characters and allowed them to reflect elements of each other on-stage.

We can't look into the soul of another -- not unless they open up and allow us a glimpse. We can't know what motivates or triggers their choices. But if someone opened up to us and we honored their spirit no matter what appeared on the surface, mankind would be truly evolved. If we could make a choice to love unconditionally and accept unconditionally, perhaps we would create fewer Monsters.

Few allow us a glimpse into their motivations and hopes, frustrations and passions, desires and reasoning because they fear what the world would do to them. We are quick to judge and reject. We look into others' lives and are quick to call the unknown -- be it idea or individual -- a "Monster."

Perhaps if we looked deeper and saw the impact our actions had on others we might not be so quick to reject the Creature. Perhaps we could find a way to look past the external ugliness and identify something beautiful inside. Perhaps we could truly learn to recognize an aspect of our own loneliness, desire, passion and hope inside its dark innocence and handle the encounter differently.

Am I the Monster or the Creator?

                                                                                                                               -- Jenni

Friday, November 7, 2014

Of Mice and Men: Classic & Timeless

Have you every read John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men? Published in 1937, the novella/play was required reading for my high school English program and I fell in love with it then. I'm thrilled that it's required reading this year for my son. It is one of the most beautiful stories ever written with a theme that is relevant and stirring even today.

Did you realize that or did this classic work appear dull, dated, or unworthy of note? Did you know that Of Mice and Men has been a frequent target of censors for its vulgarity and what some even consider offensive and racist language? It's a story about some rough, real people so it doesn't sugar coat. Did you know it appears on American Library Association's list of Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century

Of Mice and Men is Steinbeck at his best, telling the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two migrant ranch workers in California who move from place to place in search of job opportunities and a dream during the Great Depression. These two men maintain a unique though volatile friendship and face more than just the challenges of getting work and surviving during a desperate time in our history.

Lennie is mentally-challenged. He's sweet and simple and hopes for a day when he and George have their own place and he can tend the rabbits there. Sounds nice, huh? But it's Steinbeck so we know there will be a catch. Well, Lennie is also very strong and very big ... and this simple-minded man is drawn to soft things which he likes to touch.  He has no filters. This makes him very dangerous. In his past he's done bad things that he didn't mean to do. There have been consequences. But George has taken responsibility for him. And though George is harsh at times, he genuinely cares for Lennie.  

Enough of the plot. You'll have to read it to discover what happens.

Of Mice and Men takes its title from a Robert Burns poem To A Mouse, which read: "The best laid schemes o mice an' men / Gang aft agley."  In plain English: "The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry." 

Yes, yes they do.

See all the characters in this story share a similar longing and a similar dream. They do their best in non ideal circumstances and despite all odds to nurture hope. They struggle with the same things -- no matter how different they are physically, emotionally or personally.  The characters seek to connect ... something that in some amazingly unique way, George and Lennie have already achieved. Against all odds, George and Lennie have built a bond and connection that the other people in this story envy and are desperate to find.

Curley's Wife, the only woman in the play, simply wants someone to talk to. And someone to listen to her.

Curley, the boss' son, has an inferiority complex because he is small of stature. And he's always picking fights and running around the ranch looking for his wife.

Candy, the oldest character, has an old dog. His only friend. And when he loses that dog, he loses a part of his soul.

Slim, the main driver on the team, is a loner by nature. He recognizes and is fascinated by George and Lennie's genuine care for each other. The idea that they travel together is foreign to him. He envies their friendship.

Crooks is the black man on the ranch. Though allowed to play horse-shoes with the men 'til dark, he's banished to separate quarters and denied access to the bunk-house.

George and Lennie have a dream. They hope one day to settle down on their own piece of land. To live a simple life as they please on their terms. Together. Candy is drawn in to this dream. This dream gives him -- along with George, Lennie and even Crooks  -- hope. And it is hope and a longing for a connection to others that fundamentally drives these characters. It bonds them. They desperately long for a connection.

These characters are not all that different from you and me ... from people today. The characters dream of a place where they can be themselves. They dream of people who understand them and to whom they can connect. They hope. 

So do we. We hope. We seek genuine, authentic relationships. Oh we don't do it in a bunkhouse on a ranch. We use other methods and media. But the goal is the same. Genuine Connection. And that's why I love this play. It has meaning and it is relevant ... even 75 years after original publication.

Last night, I had the amazing opportunity to see the Broadway revival of the play staring James Franco and Chris O'Dowd. The final performance was filmed and aired for one performance only nationwide on November 6. My friend who joined me had never read the play or story. She was moved to tears.

The theme is not so complex. To hope for simple pleasures. To seek someone to talk to who will genuinely listen and care. To find someone who you truly connect with. And to honor that connection. 

That's Of Mice and Men. And yes, sadly Steinbeck was right. Those kind of simple plans often go awry. But there is always Hope. Steinbeck gives us that. 

                                                                                                                     -- Jenni

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Where Do The Children Play?

Think back to your childhood ... Where did you go after school until the family gathered around the table for dinner? Where and How did you "play?"

I am cursed with an abnormally good memory, so those days from the 1970's replay with a hazy clarity. When I departed Cooks Corners Elementary and that big yellow school bus delivered me to my childhood home at 304 PowderHorn Drive, my mom greeted me -- she was a Music Teacher and usually home when I arrived. We sat around the kitchen table with an after school snack and talked through my day. Then I went out to play.

I walked or rode my bike from PowderHorn onto Hemlock, abandoning it in the driveway of my best childhood friends Cathleen Bolde or Tammy Blasingame. Or, they rode their bikes to my house. Bedrooms and inside play was typically not permitted unless it was cold or rainy. At Cathleen's house there was a pop-up trailer in the backyard. Tammy and I had swing-sets and jungle gyms. If none of those pleased us, we got back on our bikes and rode to the school playground. We took bike rides around the area. Sometimes I played Tennis with one of my other friends. Whatever the case, outside was the place to be.

Cathleen, Tammy and I "hung out." We were friends at Cooks Corners, Thomas Jefferson Junior High and well into our days at Valparaiso High School. In junior high we went roller skating. In high school, we attended football and basketball games and carpooled (or in high school drove) to either Shakey's Pizza or the Dairy Queen. Our interests took us different ways eventually but we were friendly all the way through school. 

I don't remember exactly everything we did during those after school afternoons. But we played outdoors or in my basement with dolls, board games, record players and dress up clothes, Barbies and my doll house. Video games were non-existent and we didn't watch TV. Wait, I do remember a summer of General Hospital during the Anna, Robert, Duke drama. We'd watch an hour and then go back outside. 

And sometime before dinner, I made it home. 

I didn't have a Cell phone. I didn't have a GPS tracker on my bike. I wasn't "connected" to any device. If we changed houses, we always called our moms to let them know our locations altered. We made plans on the telephone or just stopped by.

I don't think my mom worried when I left the house. She knew I was out playing and that I'd be home at the designated hour for dinner. We had fun. I have lots of good childhood memories with Tammy and Cathleen.

Kids today play differently. I so looked forward to the days my kids would come home from school and sit at the kitchen table for snack, telling me about their day. But they don't. They tell me they need "down time" after school and turn on the TV or retreat to their rooms. They have electronics and 300 TV stations and Twitter and Facebook (tho' I'm told that's dead for teens) and Nintendos and computers and itunes/Spotify and thousands of exciting locations that can thrill them sitting alone at a desk staring at a computer screen. Heck thanks to Wifi, you can take that "connection" with you wherever you go. 

You don't need people. You don't need a Tammy or a Cathleen to play. You can just log-in to Temple Run or Candy Crush or Facebook or Twitter and stimulate a warm, fuzzy virtual connection.

Stimulate or simulate?

I'm sorry, but that isn't connected and it isn't playful. It's stressful. It's exhausting to manage all the apps to keep up to date on my daughter's behavior at school. Why is there an App for that? Am I the only person to find it annoying to receive "texts" about schedules and homework and meetings? Am I the only parent who doesn't check my phone all the time to play helicopter with their kids? When I was a kid, my parents didn't need text updates about my homework. Somehow I got it done without that reminder. For my activities there was a printed Rehearsal Calendar ... a printed Cast List ... a printed Team Roster with phone numbers and contact detail. Oh, I'm told that I'm more connected than ever with Skype, FaceTime, Twitter, School Texts and Facebook updates ... so why do I feel so disconnected to the people who truly matter?

Why do I find myself wondering if all this electronic communicating is actually not helping but stressing out our kids? Do our kids know how to "play" anymore? When we'd play, we'd use our imaginations. We'd shut out the world. We'd laugh and engage with others. 

In the olden days, I had a 20-minute phone limit with my friends. The phone was the only media available and it was attached by a cord so my parents were always in earshot. Strange that my son rarely uses his phone to talk, just to scroll, text and tweet. He's never without it. He admits he's addicted to it. But I worry that he doesn't know how to "connect" because of it.

I miss getting phone calls from friends. I miss writing and receiving letters in the mail. I miss sitting across from someone I care about and looking them in the eyes. I'm exhausted and stressed by electronic communications. I find I scan emails more often than truly read them and miss more information than I absorb.

Where do the children play today? On "SmartPhones." On X-box games. On Internet sites. On Apps. Inside? Parks are empty. Libraries are simply means to get wifi. Bookstores are closing as electronic media dominates.

I want to disconnect to connect. I want to unplug, delete my FB page and remove myself from "Social Media" since I don't really think it's very social and it's overwhelming my senses in its constant bursts.

But, then I think ... I'd be completely cut-off from my kids commitments if I didn't sign up for Text 101. I'd miss invites to birthday parties, weather updates from Ballet class and other events my kids hope to attend. If I didn't have Facebook, I wouldn't know that my friend had a baby or see any photos. If I didn't have the internet, I couldn't go to the RO Drama page and download the photos I need to get to the press to announce the upcoming musical. If I didn't check email, I'd miss the coupons from Pet Supplies Plus for my kitten's favorite food.

I remember knocking on Mrs. Bolde's door and asking "Can Cathleen come out and play?" I didn't text in advance. I didn't check her location on Facebook. I just knocked, made eye contact and posed the questions with words ... face to face ...

Where do our children play? How do our children play? When does Social mean what it used to once again? Is there any hope for a simpler way to be friends? Last night my daughter was playing with her dolls in her room and "imaginating" some contest with teams and prizes. I felt a burst of hope at that moment.

And is it a contradiction to admit that I found both Cathleen and Tammy on Facebook and that we "stay connected" with photos and IMing across the miles? 

Can we find a balance to connect and play? Can our children?
                                                                                                         -- Jenni

P.S. Incidentally, I wrote this blog on paper with a pen before typing it into Blogger ...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I Love The Ending of Gone Girl*

*Spoiler Alert: 
Before continuing, please note that I will give away hints to the 
ending of Gone Girl, a brilliant work by Gillian Flynn recently made into a film. 
If you do NOT wish to discover clues to the ending here, STOP READING NOW.
And for heaven's sake ... read the damn book or go see the film!

At this moment, I am positive my brother is shaking his head in frustration. That is if he even read this far. To say he strongly disliked the conclusion to the novel Gone Girl would be a vast understatement. We ventured jointly into the crazy world of that book about a year ago, promising to discuss as we read and finished it. Our response to the ending was of polar opposites. And, when I saw the opening Saturday night showing of the film and posted that I liked its conclusion, he staunchly announced that meant under no circumstances would he go see it. 

He absolutely hated the ending.

The ending of Gone Girl is the subject of much debate and I'm certain author Gillian Flynn is grinning in Cheshire Cat-like satisfaction. It's no Disney movie.  The language and action is coarse at times. And the ending isn't neat. But the film's closing moment with Amy ... the slow pan of the camera ... the look in her eyes ... the final words Nick utters ... WOW. Just Perfect.

To me.

Let me begin by stating that neither lead character in Gone Girl is of high moral fiber. Both lack core redeeming characteristics. Readers tend to like stories neat, valuing the "good guy" and preferring to clearly identify the "bad guy .. or girl." But, in this story. both of the characters are a bit ... well let's just say shady ... 

But ... and here I know my brother is shaking his head and uttering a cry of horrified frustration ... I LIKE Amy Dunne. I admire her tenacity ... her cleverness ... her foresight ... her creative approach to life and the unsatisfying poker hand it dealt her. I like her Darkness. I like her unwillingness to be manipulated, dismissed, controlled, ignored, limited or beaten. I like how she fights.

See, I like strong women. I admire those who won't go down lightly or trip like one of those silly girls running through a dark graveyard in a B-movie horror film. 

I stand strongly in the court of Anne Boleyn and cheer her clever manipulation of Henry VIII. No, it didn't end well for her. But despite losing her head, she dramatically altered England's religion and established a legacy that left another undauntable woman -- Elizabeth I -- in charge of a country that emphatically rejected her mother. 

I dream to someday perform the role of Regina in The Little Foxes. I've read the script and watched the film with Bette Davis numerous times. And I imagine a day I stand at the top of the stairs and watch Horace -- the weak man that I despise -- collapse and thus finally give me what I want. It's an electric, horrifying and chilling scene. 

Aeschylus' Oresteia is my favorite Greek dramaElectra's darkness and ultimate revenge on her weak mother and stupid boyfriend is dynamic. 

I admire Cleopatra and her passion. I cheer how she contrived her meeting and eventual seduction of Julius Caesar. I thrill at her clever handling of Mark Antony.  I celebrate her unwillingness to be led away in chains by the fool Octavius and her strong choice to determine her own fate and death. 

Though I don't always embrace her politics, I even admire the tenacity of Hillary Clinton fighting her way through the "old boys political club." She kept her head high through all sorts of muck. And she didn't allow herself to be played as a "victim" when Bill's ... "other activities" came into the light. 

So I like Amy Dunne. She's a fighter. She's messy and understands the world. She refuses to comply to limits she doesn't accept and orchestrates the game she plays like a thought out chess match. She writes her own rules and pays the price for them at times. But life goes along on her terms ... not determined by someone else's expectations or rules. She understands the men  -- and women for that matter -- around her and won't allow herself to be underestimated, over-looked, dismissed, anticipated, or pigeon-hold into some behavior model established in Victorian times. 

Sadly, I'm probably in the minority here. But, and this is odd ... Women tend to be less than supportive of other women -- especially strong women. There exists a desire to pull those women down and to blame them or condemn them or reject them for their intelligent use of their mind or sexuality or creativity. Women are threatened by other women and strangely turn on their own kind. When a man wrongs them, they are quick to blame another woman.  And men seem pleased to have the spotlight turned away from them.

Case in point: the Biblical woman (who is NOT Mary Magdalene no matter what popular culture might suggest) found in the "very act of adultery." The masses want to stone her. But it takes two to tango. Where's the Man? Why not stone him? She couldn't have been discovered in the "very act of adultery" all alone! 

Women are just hard on other women.  Why is that? Shouldn't we stand together and cheer each other on -- Girl Power and all that jazz -- and proclaim female victories? Why is a strong woman who desires to shape her own destiny -- one who refuses to conform -- a "bad girl?" 

But I digress.

Amy wasn't stupid in Gone Girl. Yes, she took an extreme tactic BUT Nick was an idiot and a horrible jerk in SO many ways. Should we truly take His side ... feel sorry for him and see him as the victim? He set himself up for it. I might even suggest that He had it coming. So Amy didn't follow his rules. So she fought back and contrived a game she could control. So she wasn't weak. Why do we point our finger at her as evil ... bad ... sick and twisted? 

Why should we feel sorry for Nick  and want Amy to get some kind of comeuppance? Why does SHE deserve to be brought down? 

Okay, there was the murder, but that guy was crazy anyway ... 

Years ago, I started what I thought would simply be a short story about just such a woman. A woman with ideas and a plan. A woman who wouldn't allow herself to be overlooked or pigeon-hold or limited or dismissed when the rules of society -- or the rules of the men around her -- demanded her conformance to antiquated norms or expectations. It took on a life of its own and became a 40 chapter book. Oh, it's still in draft form. But maybe ... just maybe someday I will finish it and publish it and there will be one more strong woman to create debate. 

I wonder if my brother will like her and the ending of that story ...
                                                                                                                               -  Jenni

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Grandfather's Wisdom

My Granddaddy used to say: "Life it do get tedious." 

As a young child, I struggled with what he was teaching me. He would say this when I would announce that I was bored. Or when I told him I didn't want to do something that I had been instructed to do ... something I was supposed to do but didn't much care to. When it was Quiet. I didn't like Quiet ... still don't.

My Granddaddy was a rather simple man. Of course, I knew him in the retired sense. But that is the man I remember very vividly. He worked at a fish hatchery in a small town in southern Indiana. I try to imagine what that was like. I imagine him standing amidst land and water. No computer or cell phone to connect him or bind him to a desk. I'm not sure if he worked alone or had a partner. But it would have been a quiet business.

He knew lots of people. They called him Sam. It wasn't his name. His name was Willard. His middle initial was S. Didn't stand for anything ... just S. But everyone called him Sam.

When I knew him I don't recall him doing a lot of reading, with exception of the newspaper and the Bible. The house he lived in with my Grandmother -- the only house they ever lived in -- had one bathroom. It didn't have a shower, only a bathtub. There was a golden leather chair with a footstool next to the grandfather clock where I would lounge. Brown carpeting throughout. The master bedroom was on the main floor. Upstairs had the kids room and the guest room where my parents slept. There were toys in that closet. There was a Living Room, for formal company only, and a sitting room. Granddaddy had one brown chair and my grandmother had the other. And there was a TV console in that room with 5 or so stations. We'd watch cartoons there on Saturday morning. He might watch the news. Not much else. Oh, and there was a fruit cellar where all of Grandmother's canned goods -- I mean the ones she preserved and canned -- were stored. I liked that space. 

The kitchen was the center of the household. My Grandmother did a lot of cooking there. From scratch of course. We played card games around the round oak table. There were no big fancy board games or electronic games. Liverpool Rummy was our go-to ... it consisted of 7 different hands of cards using one deck per player. Lots of cards. Then there was Old Maid or Go Fish. We ate popcorn and drank cokes while we played. I don't remember my grandparents ever having wine, beer or cocktails during game nights ... or ever for that matter.

Granddaddy would sit in his brown chair and read the newspaper every day. Grandmother would spend most of her day in the kitchen.

I remember Granddaddy working in his vegetable garden. I would sit outside on a concrete bench reading a book or coloring while he worked in the dirt. Granddaddy tended an amazing garden and I fondly recall the tomatoes and green beans it would grow. It grew so many that he stopped eating them -- claimed he was sick of the taste he ate so many. Well, I've never grown sick of the taste of home-grown vegetables!

Sometimes we would sit together on his back porch when he smoked his pipe. We'd talk there. We'd shuck corn. He'd tell me stories. We took lots of walks together too. And drives for picnics and hikes. We'd sing on the way in the car. They only had one car between them. And we always went to church on Sunday mornings. I remember Granddaddy wore a light blue three-piece suit. Don't know if he had others but that one stands out in my mind.

His life was simple and relatively quiet. And he was content ... he was happy.

In our modern world of "social media" with constant electronic communication, computers and smart phones, those days of Granddaddy's might seem rather tedious. They weren't hectic and busy. He didn't have lots of evening activities. He didn't avoid coming home by becoming overly involved in some organization or another. He didn't do plays like I do. He didn't schlep kids places and have to check a calendar each day to remember who had to go where and when and where he was supposed to be. I'm pretty sure he volunteered and served as a deacon at the church. I know he sang in the choir for a while. But he didn't head out with friends to the bar to watch any games or to grab a drink and chat. He went to work and came home. And when he retired, he stayed pretty close to home. For all intents and purposes, he lived a simple life. But he didn't seem to mind.

I've always been a rather restless spirit and I struggle with inactivity. I like to have something to look forward to. I like to have a project ... to go out and about. I enjoy that lifestyle and the people I meet along the way. It's part of who I am and how I grow, live and love. But my life recently has slowed down, which is a personal challenge for me, and I've disconnected a bit. I've lost touch with people who were once very special to me. Life is like that, I guess, and people come and go just like activities come and go.

Some days I'm good with the slower pace ... some days it makes me crazy. Some days I miss people. Other days I'm fine on my own. I work out and go to yoga. I write. I knit a lot and work with my daughter on times-tables. I drive a lot and take my son to play practice. And I read a lot. I'm in the middle of a book series and even the book I'm reading has "slowed down." The characters are more sedentary. Settled. Their life is quieter at this point in the story-line.

At first that bugged me. I tend to read for the adventure a book gives me ... the glimpse into another reality and bit of escape. And here a book has characters I adore as bored as I feel right now! But then ... well, I realized there might be a lesson the Universe wanted me to hear. Perhaps I was meant to realize that Life it do get tedious. That there was a different kind of joy in their day-to-day normalcy and that might just apply to me too. That I might find if I was open to it. 

I'm learning and accepting the reality that Life isn't a series of passionate encounters and adventures. Oh, there are moments. But it's not a soap opera or episode of night time TV. We watch that kind of action on TV and expect it in our lives. There are times we choose to leap from project to project and show to show and activity to activity in an effort to avoid the Quiet that stalks us should we slow down. We struggle with nights of avoidance and re-entry into "reality." The dull, non-glamorous nature of playing house or sitting at home. We seek noise and distraction. We revel in it. 

And when the merry go round stops and the tempo changes, we literally don't know what to do. We get bored. Or restless. We fill our hours with whatever noise we can find to avoid the mundane ... to avoid looking deeper into our own selves.

But, the mundane has a rhythm of its own. And when we get bored or restless, we have the option to seek joy in the disconnect ... in the Quiet. Sometimes the soul needs that ... to grow and find strength and a new direction. Or to learn to better appreciate the shimmering being we are right then and there.

Are you spinning? Are you avoiding through volunteer or project over-commitment? Are you struggling with your own restless spirit? Has your life gone Quiet? What do you do with the white noise ... allow it to nourish you or fight to add another item to your calendar?

Life it do get tedious. That's what Granddaddy said. He didn't seem to mind it. He found rhythm and contentment in his life. But, can we find our own joy when life gets tedious? In today's busy, over-communicative but less connected world, can we rediscover the simple joys of friends and family and home? Can we slow down and re-connect with each other and our selves? Can we learn something in the Quiet? 
                                                                                                                                  -- Jenni 

Friday, September 26, 2014

On Eve & An Apple ... aka Danger Will Robinson Is Resistance Futile?

From a very young age, we learn about it. We hear about it and read about the characters. I can assert confidently that knowledge about this tale is not limited to those of us brought up in a church-going home. We know all about it. The story. The consequences.

The Apple ...

Ah ... you know what I'm talking about, don't you?

We recognize an Apple by its sheen and the lushness of the typically red coloration. We feel its smoothness and note how easily it fits into the palm of our hand. We learn it is a fruit and that for all intents and purposes it displays the characteristics of something that is good for us.

But no matter its appearance or the good press the Apple receives as the "perfect fruit," its archetypal back-story originated as something forbidden ... something bad for us.

Yet even from the very beginning, we craved it anyway.

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child.  I understood as a child. I thought as a child. But when I became a man -- in other words, when I grew up -- I put away childish ways. Then we see through a glass darkly, now face to face."

Those are Paul's words from I Corinthians, with a little clarifying commentary from me. But, I ponder on those nights when I'm unable to fall asleep if that is an entirely accurate statement. Do we really put away "childish ways" and longings? I pour out thoughts into my journal and take long walks or drives in evaluation of that concept.  I examine that idea a lot.

As children we learn acceptable and non-acceptable choices and behaviors from our parents and caregivers. We learn what pleases others and the results of a bad choice. We are told Yes and No and Do This and Don't Do That because it will hurt you or because it's not good for you so often we can't help but identify the elements that offer accolades and the actions that cause dismay, disappointment and punishment. I'm pretty sure one of the first words we hear repeatedly is "No." There are many variations to these guidelines and they play like audiotapes in our minds.

Don't eat that. Don't do that. Don't try that. Don't touch that. Don't ... don't ... don't. And if perchance we DO ... well, there are consequences.

If we study the archetypal and biblical story of Adam, Eve, the Apple and that Snake, we see this performance played out in the earliest chapters of the Bible. You can have ANYTHING in the Garden. Just don't eat the Apple. Don't touch the Apple. Don't look at the Apple. In other words, stay the heck away from the Apple.

So, what happens? Ya'll know this. Eve eats the Apple. Humanity falls from grace and stumbles about from that moment on ...struggling with No and Don't and Danger, Will Robinson. (Okay, maybe only my generation struggles with the final one.) But the result is the same. We were offered Free Will but told the rules by our Father. What did we do? We ignored the rules, indulged our craving, ate the forbidden fruit and messed everything up.

If I could have Coffee with God, I might just ask him why he put that stupid apple tree there in the first place. I mean, he's God. He didn't have to put that tree there with its shiny red fruit dancing before Eve's eyes and making her long for it or wonder about it or notice it at all. He could have masked it or made it ugly or hidden it from view. But the fact remained ... he put it there. Eve noticed it despite the warning and the NO associated with it. The very first Temptation occurred. And guess what? Eve failed.

Maybe Eve and I should meet and have a chat ...

Eve, made in the very image of God and perfect in every way, failed the test. Eve saw that glistening fruit and went for it, despite God the Father and Creator of the Universe walking by her side and saying NO!

So, the cycle continues. We tell our kids the rules ... don't do it, we tell them. Big stuff, little stuff. Doesn't matter. But they fall for the Apple too and mess up as well.

It can be a simple thing. Don't eat the cookies or chips because "They aren't healthy," "They may taste good but have no nutrients," "They are bad for you." Oreos and Cape Cod kettle chips still disappear before the much healthier carrots and celery.

Maybe it's bigger ... We tell our kids not to play their music so loud since they might damage their hearing. We tell them not to text and drive or check their phone in the car or play with the radio because they could get in an accident. We tell them to turn off the TV and study or they might fail the test. In good faith, we knowing grown-ups tell them the "don'ts" with the related consequences. But we aren't fools. We've played the game. We know that inevitably and despite our loving intentions some of those "don'ts" are gonna be ignored. 

It's not just kids, though. We know the rules. We know the don'ts and their consequences too. We are told by our doctors about the issues of too much caffeine or super sized extra-value meals, let alone the evil french fry which has nothing healthy about it. But there is something about that french fry ... salt glistening and the lush red ketchup by its side that we cannot and do not wish to resist. We want it. We order it. We eat it. We enjoy it... until the next morning when we pay for it. Ah, but that's another blog...

Anyway ... what do we do? That juicy Apple is out there ... beckoning and luring us with a siren's song. We know it's bad for us. Originally, in the Garden, we were told it would kill us. From the actions that followed, we know it will bring us down. We know ... but what do we do with that knowledge? Will we reach out? Will we pull it down from the dangling limb? Will we take a bite?

Eve's choice forced her to leave The Garden. I find myself wondering how she felt about Apples after all the drama of the "incident." Did she resent them? Forsake them? Did thinking them make her feel ill? Or did she learn something from her taste test and expulsion? Did she overcome the aversion and develop some deeper personal understanding while prepping Apple Pie, Apple Streudel, Applesauce etc out there in the wild, wild world for Adam and the kids?

We tell our kids Don't. We hope they are listening. But we know instances exist where they will Do what we told them not to. In the same way, as we hear those warnings and Do. Oh, not all the time. And it isn't necessarily a giant rule-breakage. Most of us don't commit felonies or heinous acts of evil. But we do check our email or texts on our phones as we sit at a stoplight. We do drink a beer or two and eventually drive home. We do make that indulgent purchase that perhaps strains our bank accounts more than it should. We do lie at times. We do gossip and say not-nice-words or things. We do stuff ... we taste the Apple.

We are human ... fundamentally good, I believe, but far from perfect. If the very first created human couldn't drum up some resistence to a piece of fruit when she had a plethora of free stuff all around her, how can I? How can we?

The infamous Borg from Star Trek phrased it beautifully as they navigated the cosmos and added human beings to their Collective. Choice didn't exist. Escape was impossible. The reality was: "Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated." Brilliant assessment. True? False?

So you will inevitably crave the Apple ... its shiny color will beckon to you. And you will long for the French Fry. It's perfect golden color with a seductive taste that dissolves delectably on your tongue and creates a feeling of absolute bliss as though all is right with the world.

And then, you'll get kicked out of the Garden for your momentary indulgence. 

Maybe our kids will listen. Maybe they are stronger than we are. Maybe they won't text and drive or drink too much at a college party and throw up all night. Maybe they won't do all those crazy things we did because we told them not to. 

Maybe we can learn not to like Apples. Maybe by reminding ourselves of the consequences that come along with this seemingly innocuous and pleasing perfect fruit we can learn to resist its siren song. Deny ourselves. 

Move away from the Apple. Walk in the light.

But ... will we ever stop wanting it?
                                                                                                                    -- Jenni

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How Many Reps Left?

Do you exercise? It's been a part of my life for so long I don't know how NOT to exercise. I'm one of those sick people who misses it when I don't get that workout in. What about you? What's your workout of choice? Do you have one? Do you want one? Exercise connects my mind, spirit and body like nothing else and gives me clarity.

I enjoy exercise. Think I've mentioned that before. It's not a tag-line or something I say and don't do. No, I've honestly been following some sort of work out regime since the Jane Fonda aerobics routine came out circa ... well awhile ago.  

If I think back about it ... It began when my aunt gave me a couple workout outfits and legwarmers (yes, I was a FlashDance girl!)  and I began taking aerobics while my father played racketball. It continued throughout high school and into college, where I actually taught aerobics in one of Albion's gathering spaces, and was enhanced as I neared 29 and a friend told me how things started shifting. Well, damned if I was going to "shift." So I set out to find a way to keep all aspects of me in the places I wanted them to be. 

Vanity, thy name is Jenni.

I've explored quite a few exercise programs and discovered that I don't actually need to go to a gym to stay fit. With my TV, an extensive collection of DVDs and an on-line membership via my Computer, along with some hand-held weights, I was all set. I hear it said the hardest thing to do for home workouts is press "play." But that was never a problem for me. I had a goal to stay in shape. I liked how I looked and felt after working out. That was enough of an incentive for me. 

For many years, I did various routines using The Firm Workout. Then there was the Jillian Michaels craze (a little intense even for me). And now I've discovered the merits of a blend of Barre3 and Yoga at The Yoga Shelter, along with some interval programs, working out 5-6 days every week.

Not everyone enjoys exercise. But the Dopamine rush I feel after a yoga practice, a swim, a Barre3 routine or even a brisk walk tells me that I'm doing something good for my mind and body.

But there is another aspect that I believe we can all relate to -- a common denominator we can all appreciate when it comes to exercise. This morning, as I did my routine, I was doing a certain number of repetitions. That's how you tone muscle and get rid of fat, right? Through repetitions of a specific movement. That's how you make the body better ... repeat a specific behavior and get the results you want. That's the formula.

So there I am in full workout mode and feeling the burn. Whether you are in a class or working out on your own -- and no matter the rush you receive by working out -- there is something you look forward to: The End.  The question in your mind at various moments during an exercise regime becomes:  How many more reps? How much longer? When will this discomfort end? 30 reps? 2 miles? 20 more minutes? How long must I endure? How long do I hold this pose? How long till I can move?

Exercise time parallels life. There are movements ... and moments ... where everything is smooth. You feel good and you're enjoying that Yoga pose. Or you're in rhythm on a run. Whatever it is ... it's flowing smoothly. You are lost in the breath or the stride.

But, as the repetitions continue and the tension in your muscles grows, you begin to long for an end. A resolution. A dopamine pay-off when you can stop and celebrate completion and results. In yoga, there are poses you like and poses you struggle with. For me, I LOVE Triangle pose or any twisting pose. Balancing poses like Majorette and Airplane challenge but entice me too. But send me to Chair Pose or Yoga Curtsy and my muscles start to shake like crazy. Ask me to hold too long in Reverse Half Moon and I am a quaking mess.

But I know as I hold those poses or as I do those repetitions that I don't have to hold on or repeat forever. There is an end in sight. I really appreciate the instructor giving me that countdown ... even if I know I have 30 more reps and that's a lot, I also know there is an end in sight. That things will get better ... that I will move differently ... that I won't struggle forever.

In Yoga, no matter how challenged you feel in a particular pose, you KNOW that it will eventually change and end. That you will move into something different, perhaps easier or more personally satisfying. Same for other forms of exercise. Runners know that route has a cool down point where they slow down and stop. Swimmers know their distance or number of laps required. If you do aerobics or Barre3 or lift-weights, you know how long the workout will be and the number of reps.

But when life gets uncertain and dark clouds come your way, you don't know how long it will last. When rejection and disappointment cast shadows on your path and leave you feeling lonely and alone, you don't know if anyone or anything will come along to brighten the broken cobblestones before you. When friends disappear or changes take place or sickness hits, you don't know when the prognosis will improve.

All you have is the hope that eventually, you will change your pose. That eventually an instructor will help you discover that you can push through, no matter how many reps you have left. And you hope for the hint of something new to come. If you've been working out for awhile, perhaps you have some stamina to call upon. Some hidden strength to cling to in those moments when your body is shaking and requesting help from someplace deeper inside you. You just have to trust yourself and know that you can and will find it.

You can ask the Universe ... how many reps are left? But don't expect an answer. Just know it will be Enough to get your mind or your body or your soul or your heart -- or perhaps all of the above -- to a new place. It's all part of the process of Self-Surrender, a kind of significant sacrifice or behavior modification that eventually leads to transformation of the personality ... of the spirit ... of the mind ... of the body ... of the heart.

"How many reps left?" I ask panting and sweating and struggling. 

"When does it get easier?" I wonder as I shake during that difficult pose.

"When will I catch a break and win the day?" I wonder after the audition or the interview or the meeting.

"When will I understand?" I wonder after that phone call.

The Universe is silent. All I can do is keep moving and trust in the process. In life, we don't know how many repetitions remain. But we do know that eventually and just like in yoga ... in its time ... the pose will change. 
                                                                                                                 -- Jenni

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is Your Tolerance for Pain?

I have a blister on my ankle.

Ever happen to you? The not so fun result of New shoes or just a result of wearing work shoes after a week of flip flops and walking barefoot on the beach? Whatever the case, you have a blister.

What do you do? Bandaid? Neosporin? Select a pair of shoes that is slightly larger or more comfortable? Flip flops for a while? Avoid shoes all together?

What do I do, you ask? I push through. I put my selected pair of shoes on and embrace the discomfort. I keep going. Foolish? Perhaps.  Not sure if that helps heal the blister any faster but I refuse to let the pain stop me.

Not the first time, I will admit. Last winter, I went skating at the Downtown Detroit Campus Martius skating rink. I was flying around the ice when I felt it ... the blister on my ankle. At that moment, I was faced with two options: Stop and nurse the ankle or keep going, enjoy the moment and inevitably nurse a slightly larger blister later.  Wonder which option I took? Well, at the end of the day, the blister was enormous (not kidding) and had bled through to stain the wool sock to which it was stuck. Serious OUCH! BUT, I had an amazing afternoon skating around that circle. And I never stopped smiling.

In high school, I played on the golf team. During my senior year at one of our biggest meets, I was playing really well. I knew my score would make or break our Team Score. I was the last one to come in. It was up to me. But standing on the tee of the 17th hole, I felt the blister on my index finger. It had been a long day. At that moment, this dull ache threatened my entire round. I was one point ahead of my competitor with two holes to go. Now was not the time to allow any weakness to show.

What did I do, you ask? Curious aren't you? Well, I did the only thing I knew to do. I hunkered down, hit an amazing tee shot and a brilliant chip up the hill to the green. It was on a slope so I didn't see exactly where it landed but I knew I made the green. As I walked up to seek out my ball, I noticed that my golf glove had been shredded. I am absolutely serious. It was hanging on my left hand by the snap only. Walking onto the green, I looked around for my ball.  It was a fabulous chip ... and I KNEW the ball was securely on the green. 

I walked around a few moments before discovering the ball was already in the hole. I had chipped it perfectly. Down in Two! Birdie for Jenni! I removed the glove with a smile. My score ended up winning us that competition. And I still have the shredded glove.

Some might say I have a high tolerance for pain.  I just see it differently. I have a high intolerance for pain. A high intolerance for anything that could potentially limit me or stop me or try to hold me back from finding the best in me or the best of any possible moment. I won't be limited or stopped by a little pain when something glorious is on the line. So when I have a blister on my ankle, I push through. I wear the shoes anyway. I show up and face the difficult moments with grace. I don't hide from them. I don't cower when the challenges or blisters arise.

What about you? What do you do when you have a blister? When the difficult moment arises and you are face to face with one of them? Do you avoid the challenge? Do you address it? I'm not here to judge or tell you what to do. Only you know your truth. Only you know the stakes and how important "the shoes" are to you.

But for me, I'm gonna wear the shoes. I'm gonna finish the round. I'm gonna look the most difficult moments of my life in the eyes and smile. I may fall down. I may not win the day. I may lose the race or the role or the whole game. But I will not let a little blister or a little fear or a little self-doubt beat me.

Will you? Or will you fight through the pain and find your own victory?

Your call. But if  you happen to find me at Campus Martius this winter wearing those horrible heavy rented ice skates, I will probably have a blister. And I will still be skating.
                                                                                                     -- Jenni