Sunday, June 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Hare Krishnas...

Husband and I ran an errand today without the kids. On our way back, and within just one mile from our home, we found ourselves behind a giant, slow-moving float: The Hare Krishnas were in our hood. 

The Hare Krishnas, as it turns out, are always in our hood. They have a temple a few blocks north and west of our place. We see them about once a year. I remember the day after we moved in ...12 years ago ... we heard the sound of tambourines coming from out front. We ran to our sun room and saw a small parade of 12 (or less) Hare Krishnas: Rogers Park diversity in full force within the first 24 hours of home ownership! 

For anyone following this blog, it seems like I may be on some sort of path: I'm searching. Or, I'm just getting old. Or, I'm getting old and starting to search for something. I don't know, but 6 months ago, two Kundalini yogi's called me up for some marketing work and nothing has been the same since. 

Actually, a lot of things have been exactly the same. But other things have been remarkably different. In short, I've chanted mantra and I read Russell Simmons' Super Rich. I treated my kids' liced-out heads with essential oils instead of chemicals. I started doing more shopping at Whole Foods. And amazingly enough, I still haven't taken a damn yoga class. 

Regardless, this kind of spirituality, chanting mantra and making personal changes, is stirring something up inside of me more than any kind of forced, organized religion (Catholicism) has. And because I want my kids to be less freaked out about stuff than I was at their age (more on this later), I called the kids immediately: "Get your shoes on and meet us out front in 3 minutes. The Hare Krishnas are having a parade. Bring the iPad."

They didn't know what was going on. By the time we got to the front, the kids were still inside. I called up and Little Guy answered: "Who in the heck celebrates Christmas in the middle of summer?"

"I said Hare Krishna, not Merry Christmas!" I yelled from the yard.

If you look closely, you'll see the rope in the middle.
Two confused kids and an iPad ended up downstairs and we high-tailed it up Sheridan Road to find the float. I was worried we had missed it. I would have not been worried about missing it had I realized that the float was moving from the slow, but steady force of at least 100 Hare Krishnas pulling a rope that was attached to the axle of the giant wagon: Slowest. Float. Ever.

What a spectacle! 

I don't even remember what traffic in the southbound lanes of Sheridan was doing ... it was either getting redirected or it was moving at an absolute snail's pace behind the float. Northbound traffic proceeded cautiously.  In the float, an amplified Hare Krishna was chanting mantra:

Hare Krishna
Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna
Hare Hare
Hare Rama
Hare Rama
Rama Rama
Hare Hare

Now, as much as you probably want to sing this to the tune of George' Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," that's not how it went.  Focus.

I haven't made any commitments to new practices yet. And until I came home and Googled it, I didn't know what this mantra meant. But I will tell you that after 15 minutes (to travel 2 whole blocks) of hanging with the mantra-chanting Hare Krishnas, I felt good. Happy. Not enlightened, because that's going to take some work on my part, but good.  They're throwing out good vibes and I'm picking them up. Is this what happens when WASP's sing Amazing Grace on Sunday morning? I don't know, Amazing Grace usually makes me cry.

Positive vibes of peace and love? Or just that I was self-indulgently patting myself on the back for literally grabbing my children and running to see the parade, where my parents would have grabbed me and run in the opposite direction. 

6-Year Old Me: Who are they?
Parent: A bunch of god-damn weirdos. Stay away from them or they might take you.

Evidently the Hare Krishnas have this festival in our park every year. I don't know if they do it on the same weekend (like, if this is a celebration connected to a holiday), but if they did this last year at this time, Rodd (my father) was in town.  Actually, we were in Wisconsin a year ago today for my first Olympic-distance triathlon with Rodd.  But I can't even tell you how much I giggled at the idea of Rodd being within touching distance of a bunch of 'god damned freaks in their weird little orange dresses singing about peace and shit. Get a god damn job and some pants.'

It made me wish that teleporting was possible. 

I can hear them chanting from my bedroom window as I'm writing this piece. I'd like to go over and chant with them. But even more, I'd like to take a nap since I've been awake since about 2:30 this morning. 

Chanting?
Napping?
Chanting?
NAPPING!

Clearly, my path is a little twisted. I'll get there, even if it takes so long.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Debulked

Poor Boyish.

Yesterday, for the first time in his life, he had to have his teeth professionally cleaned. And while he was anesthetized, the doctor 'debulked' the polyp in his ear.  

I imagine cleaning cat's teeth is kind of tricky. I can only guess that debulking an ear polyp is squishy and messy.

Poor Boy-o. 

A whole day affair, I picked him up from the vet's at 5 pm and brought him home. He refused to eat while he was there and was completely ravenous once in his own house.  As much as I doted on him, he wanted nothing to do with me. 

Forgiveness came at 4:15 this morning, when we had a serious session of Cat-to-Mom lovin'. 

He's our Boy.

They shaved his little arm for the IV. Poodle arm.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Favorite Things

I just hyper-clicked my way into a really divine blog: The Life and Times of a Yogi Mompreneur.  I'm no yogi, but I do consulting work with two amazing yogi's who have - without intentionally trying to 'fix' me -  brought new dialogue and understanding (and questions! lots of questions!) of sound, breath and movement (that's Yoga, folks!) to my life. 

For the past two months - after my yogi's gifted me with a copy of Russell Simmons' Super Rich, I've been so aware of my gifts and my blessings. The reactive, knee-jerktivity that has defined me for the first 39 years of my life has found a quiet place to hang out until I can process my experience and respond in a way that still honors my feelings without being a caustic, snarky bitch. 

I think we're all in agreement that that is a good thing.

So, if you've clicked on the link above, you'll see that this wonderful, yogi mompreneur has taken time to list some of her favorite things. I'm going to do the same. 

Join me?

1.  My gift: writing and marketing.  The ideas I've had for a variety of clients in the past few weeks have rocked my own face off. I love that I can offer my clients creative, energetic and {clears throat} fucking awesome ideas and that they like them enough to give me some money in return.

2. My kids incredible sense of humor and how when they laugh -- it's a 200%, full-body, no-holds barred laughter. Even if I'm in a funk, those giggly kids can put a smile on my face.

3.  Husband. Because.

4.  Gardening. It's new to me but I am at peace in the yard. Getting stuff to grow out of dirt is wildly rewarding.

Sleepy Boy.
5.  Boyish. Senor Pussypants. Sister Mary Fat Pants. McBoy. Fatmandu. Raoul the Cat. Rolling over in the middle of the night to find him wedged between me and Husband.  Love it even more when he opens his eyes and kisses my nose.

6.  A mug of coffee in bed while watching the morning news. I'm not a caffeine junkie -- I only need one cup a day -- but if I can get it while I'm in bed and watching the news, things are good.

7.  Not feeling guilty about putting "my gift" as my #1 thing, even above my kids and Husband. 

8.  Training. Triathlon training. Marathon training. I do love the process, even though it leaves me exhausted and I seem to need to take breaks before getting back at it. I love the purpose. I love the camaraderie. I love the shoes.

Not our backyard. But close enough.
9.  Stolen, quiet (kids are upstairs watching TV) moments with my husband in the backyard: feet up on the table and nursing a cold bottle of beer.

10.  Knowing when to stop working for the day. Knowing when to start playing.

That's 10. I may come back periodically and add more because there are a lot more things that make me smile.

What made your Top 10???



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bhavana's Responsibility

After today's "Race Against Hate" 10k (Husband ran it, not me. I provided enthusiastic cheers.) we stopped at the local Jewel to pick up a few things for Father's Day breakfast, including a $10 bottle of champagne for mimosas.

When we got in line, I accidentally took my Jewel card and ran it thru the debit/credit scanner.  The cashier, an Indian woman in her mid-50s named Bhavana, looked at me like I had three heads. I apologized. Husband, attempting to help navigate the technology that had clearly already gotten the best of me, got out his debit card and said, "I'll do this."

Bhavana stopped. She let out a sigh to show she was annoyed. Then she looked at both of us and angrily said, "which one of you is buying the alcohol?".

"Me. It's me. I'll do it," I said. 


Husband quickly - and with some shame - stashed his debit card back in his wallet.

Bhavana did not like us.

Within seconds, she asked for my ID. Because I knew she hated me, I was all thumbs and managed to pull out three YMCA I.D.s (I carry my kids Y IDs in my wallet) and my Voter's Registration Card before I could get the driver's license out.

Bhavana waited.

Once I handed her the card, I thought maybe she was having a hard time finding the year I was born, because she was looking at it for what seemed like a long time. But she kept looking. 

And looking.

And still looking some more. 

For a second, I thought she was trying to commit something to memory - possibly my address - so she could leave a steamin' pile of poo on my doorstep for inconveniencing her so much with this 5 item order.

Bhavana looked up from her meditative trance with my ID and said, "Please remove your glasses."

I lifted my sunglasses up above my nose as she glanced at me and then back to the ID. "I'm 40," I said with a laugh.

Bhavana stopped, looked me straight in my once again sunglass-covered eyes and coldly said, "This is my responsibility, ma'am."

Bhavana wasn't fucking around.

The trio in line behind me - the ones with 6 bottles of Pinot Grigio - completely lost their shit when they heard her shut my ass down. Husband, who had started to silently sidestep his way to the end of the register so he could bag our groceries and not further inconvenience Bhavana, was also smirking and I was guessing he was on the brink of a solid case of church giggles.

To join anyone in laughter would be my death.

I managed to get out of the store, champagne in hand, unscathed. But I'll be honest, it wouldn't have surprised me if Jewel had authorized Bhavana to perform cavity searches on problematic, trouble-making customers like myself. 

And if she would have snapped a latex glove on her hand and told me to bend over, we would have had a serious problem on our hands: I really wanted a mimosa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Forty

I turned 40 yesterday. 

Husband and I celebrated a few days prior - it was lovely. We hit three different spots for pre dinner drinks, dinner and dessert and in between dinner and dessert, we got partially undressed and took a dip in the pitch black waters of Lake Michigan.  

We crazy like that.

Yesterday, was much more pragmatic, but still really lovely. After I dropped the kids to school, I met with a colleague to rough out a budget for a new client. Then I went to the dentist. 

I'm sure that sounds like a perfectly awful way to spend your 40th birthday: working on a budget and then getting in the dentist's chair. Truth be told, I like the colleague and I like the process, so the work didn't bug me. And while the dentist wasn't planned, it all worked out.

Daughter's Poem.
The rest of the day was spent not working and allowing my family to do shit for me. They grilled dinner, which we ate in the yard and they gave me presents: The Hidden Messages in Water, by Masaru Emoto and Bossypants, by Tina Fey.  Each kid made me a card that was heavy with glitter. My daughter wrote me a poem that brought me to a teary silence. In between courses and presents, I moved laundry from the washer to the dryer.

I fell asleep by 9 pm and woke up at 5:45 this morning to go to Day 1 of a two-day ideation gig.

Our 1st tomato.  I ate it.
It felt great to give myself the night off and to be very in the moment with my family, in our yard where we've worked every weekend for the past 4 or 5 weeks. 

I'm awfully lucky to be where I am, surrounded by more uplifting people than lower frequency/higher toxicity ones.  

Forty is just fine.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Signs

I treated myself to a mani/pedi last week. I think the last time I had one was last summer and I remember it mostly because the hand massage was sublime: I almost slipped out of my chair.

It had taken a good month before I felt my running feet were in okay enough condition to present to the poor woman that got stuck dealing with them.  On June 6, 2012,  exactly one month and one day after my first marathon, I went to the salon to get my nails did.

It was nice. A real luxury. The woman working on my feet didn't say a single word to me -- she just let me stare vacuously into an Us Magazine. In between feet and hands, I asked to use the bathroom.  

I saw this when I turned on the light (despite the sign, someone had turned the light off before I got into the bathroom):  


I saw this gem hovering on a shelf about 3 inches above my head while I was sitting on the throne:


And since all good things come in threes, I was reminded to turn off the faucet ALL  THE WAY before I left the 3 foot x 5 foot bathroom to finish up my partial day of beauty:

Does that seem like a shit-ton of signs for one, single-occupant restroom? The only things missing were signs to explain how to wipe properly (front to back!) and how to make the most out of washing my hands.

I'm pretty sure I turned off the lights after I left the bathroom anyway. Too much information for one 3-minute pee.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Now I'm Starting to Miss Running

On Friday, after a deliriously great meeting with a new client, I offered to pick Husband up from school.  I was bouncing off the walls and it was his last day before summer break -- it seemed like a good idea to pick him up instead of waiting for him to take the train home.

I took Sheridan Road north to get him. Sheridan Road is where I did all of my training runs for my marathon.

I can't go back to a normal, white shoe.
And then it hit me quite suddenly: Shit. I miss running. 

Truth be told, after the marathon was over,  I was wiped out. Not just from the 26.2 miles of continuous moving, but from the 18+ weeks of training: that was exhausting. And just as I was crossing the finish line, new opportunities to work started to present themselves. I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that I was happy to skip a workout in lieu of working on a marketing plan. 

But on Friday, it hit me. And once Husband was in the car, and after we had gotten a soft-serve cone from DQ, we talked a bit about everything that has happened in the past few weeks. Husband is very supportive of my work -- even if I'm preoccupied with something for a client, I'm preoccupied with a smile on my face: He can see how happy working makes me. 

He advised me to not give up the things I love, which include running and blogging. He told me I need to schedule time to make them happen. 

I imagine he's right.

I haven't knit in awhile either. As far as relaxing hobbies go, I've been leaning on gardening and baking. In fact, I am woefully off course from my 2012 Goals post. I'm almost too freaked out to go back and see what I said I'd do. And must I backtrack now? I had no idea in late December that my career was going to get a major bump.  But it did. And here I am. 

At this point in time, I could walk out of my house and buy a pair of new running shoes without worrying about how much they cost. I can sign up for races without feeling guilty about spending $90 on an event.  Blogging is free and therapeutic. I can probably clear out a little bit of the noise if I blog before I work on a plan or an activity report.

I've gotta hit the pavement again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Value

Any time I spend too much time thinking about a blog instead of just writing it, I kind of screw myself.

I've been sitting on this one for a full week. 

I've talked it out with my husband. I've written full 'graphs in my head while I was driving downtown or weeding a flower bed. 

And here I am. Stuck in bed after a night of birthday celebration (Pre-emptive celebration. My actual birthday is later this week) that included oysters on the half, a slab of slightly bloody red meat and copious amounts of wine, I've been pooping my brains out since about 2:30 am. Husband is out front watching Italia/Spain in the Euro Cup and I'm trying to feel like a human again in the room just adjacent to our bathroom. Strategic positioning, for sure.

I've got to write this.

Were I to judge the past week on a scale of 1 to 10 (one being not great, 10 being awesome), I'd say it was a 15. And a -3. It was, professionally speaking, one of the most bipolar weeks of my life. 

A 2-year client relationship ended on a really horrible note. I won't disclose the details (although they are pretty fucking hilarious) but I will say that I kept my cool and I maintained my professional integrity, despite being ambushed by absolutely hateful e-mails and voice mails. 

That same day, I learned that the 15-page marketing plan I had developed for my agency downtown, had gotten minimal edits. I had blocked Tuesday to spend time editing a document that had nothing more than some grammar-type tweaks. I submitted a 15-page plan for review and when it came back to me...it was still my plan. 

Understand that I had put close to 17 hours into this plan, and I labored over it's organization and creativity. The process was intense, but I enjoyed it: I stayed very true to my creative spirit while writing it. The fact that the results  -- that my employer thought it was fantastic -- made the fruits of my labor even juicier.

That evening, I secured a two-day ideation gig which has a very enjoyable paycheck attached to it. Can't tell you what it is for, but I'm going to have a swell time with it.

Two days later, I was with my 'main' client - the one I'm putting about 30 hours/month into - to have coffee and discuss my future with the company.  My client took time to let me know how valued I am (which I kind of already knew, as it isn't uncommon for this client to end business texts, e-mails or even FB posts with "We love you!!!") and to confirm that I was in for the long term.

Sign me up.  I'm in. You want more Triple T? I'll give you more Triple T.

And then the day after that, I met with the client who received the marketing plan that I had labored over. I can't name drop, but the actual client is married to a very iconic Chicago artist, and he was a part of the meeting.  Wife and husband were both blown away by the plan. The husband...the very iconic Chicago artist...may or may not have said something about seeing that my "creative blood poured onto the pages of this plan."

Insert record scratch here, Sybil.

Accused earlier in the week of not contributing and of being too expensive (never mind that it was a trade for services agreement, and I had invested 90+/- hours into the account and had NEVER issued a single invoice), I closed out the week with people that recognize my value. And by value, I mean, they don't see the value that is defined by an hourly rate.  They see value in my creativity. My strategy. My energy. My partnership. My big, fat, sticky brain.

They acknowledge my value and then they happily give me money.  They also offer me more work.  

It's that kind of value.

I closed out the week with tears -- the happy kind.  I have struggled for the past few years with my transition to a 'traditional' role as a stay-at-home mom, mostly because I wasn't making a financial contribution to our family. A year or two ago, I started giving it away for free (or for trade) because marketing was in my heart. It's my gift. And that might seem like a really lame way to explain a career that exists just to increase a company's bottom line, but in the past few weeks, I've realized that it is my gift.  No, it isn't finding the cure for cancer. It isn't writing the song that makes the whole world sing. It's not going to land me a book deal. But it's what I've got and when I'm in marketing mode - when I'm sharing my gift - I'm 100% in my light. 

I am 48 hours outside of my 40th birthday. And I feel like my possibilities are endless.  I know my value. I'm connected to my gift. And all of that is a pretty great way to end the first three decades of my life and to move into what looks to be the best decade of my life. 

Also, I may be done with oysters. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Olympic Medalist Walks Into A Franchised Sandwich Shop...

The log in screen for my Facebook account currently has a picture of Michael Phelps holding an avocado and a bag of Subway.

WTF is up with that?