April 26, 2011

Affected or Affecting?

I had lunch with a pretty incredible fellow yesterday. I was talking about my view of the world or some such mumbo jumbo. When I talked about how I have a group of peers I can share my woes with that I lovingly call “my people”, I explained that they are the kind of friends I can call at the end of a bad day and tell them I want to poke a persons eyes out and they know I am not going to actually poke a persons eyes out, that I am just expressing sincere exasperation….he provided me with some new feedback.

Okay, gang. This is when Paula must read her own BOP (Book of Paula)! Because there are many pages devoted to receiving feedback in a place of openness, sincerity, and love.

He said (and I shall paraphrase)…..what if you turned that around a little...to a more positive place? Huh? Hippie! What are you talking about? Positive place? I thought it was positive that I had a group of peers who understood me and let me vent. I have always been a little fond of my cutting (and witty) sarcasm. Nevertheless, I admit that I listened long enough to hear a golden piece of information……

He then said:

Are you letting things affect you or are you affecting them? Holy Moses! Now that hit me hard. Not just because it was profound, but because I talk all around that everyday. Isn’t that a great question? How often do I cringe when I hear “victim talk”? How often do I make presentations on change? How often do I speak of people captaining their own ship?

Yeah, that is it, my friends. When faced with a situation, ask that question!

Affected or affecting?

April 22, 2011

Like Mother like Sonshine?

No doubt my own mother is laughing right now.

As I was looking through some photos we took at our weekly Mother-Sonshine breakfast yesterday I sought with desperation to find one where he wasn't making a face! I laughed out loud remembering how I was my mom's family photo problem! How many photos do I have in a box from my growing up years where I am making a face?

A particular photo that comes to mind was actually taken on Easter. Likely a very important day for my mom. We were all dressed up. I was even wearing a pink dress (which was not a regular occurrence for a Tom boy). Mom had even curled my hair. And I wasn't three. I was probably in the fourth grade. Everyone was standing together smiling in the photo....well, except me and mom. I was making a face and trying to raise my hand to sign something of great importance, I assume. And mom, looking exasperated by this experience (which leads me to believe it wasn't the only photo I added my "character"), was giving me the "mom" look while trying to hold my hand down. I had no idea why she was such a party pooper!

Well, I know now.

Before I get out for the day to get my Easter supplies so I can get things baked and gathered for my trek to Central Texas tomorrow it hit me that this is my first Easter with my family without my mom. I was in Florida speaking at the Air Force conference last year over Easter weekend so I didn't attend the first year after her death. Intentionally? Maybe. Amazingly, though, she weaves herself into my life everyday. I guess she was there on Holy Thursday when my little Sonshine was making picture taking really eventful. She might have even been encouraging him!

But we finally got one!

Thanks, Mom!

April 16, 2011


"Not for Nothing" is a phrase I first heard someone in the Northeast use. I've come to understand that phrase, from my own perspective, more intimately, in the last year. Because of a number of losses I've experienced in the last three years I could sum up the autumn of 2010 as a real "fall". As things began piecing back together I began to realize while I was experiencing loss I was vulnerable and felt fear of letting anyone see the real pain.

I went to therapy, sometimes A LOT OF TIMES in a week and talked to a couple of close friends frequently. However, a feeling of anxiety surrounded me. My heart knows vulnerability is not a bad thing; however, my brain was attempting to protect me. I felt safer staying silent.

Fortunately, that is not my truth today. Today I say to myself, and often out loud (yes, even out loud to myself) "Not for Nothing"! Each experience, even those painful in my path are Not for Nothing. As a matter of opinion, these experiences are for a whole heck of a lot.

Loss of marriage, mom's terminal illness, moving to a new city, two career-long goals realized, the shift of a close relationship, sell of my house, my son going to a new school, my mother's death as a result of a car accident, the unexpected loss of my job and first time of being unemployed - all within three years, I add smiling, was Not for Nothing.

Nope. Not for Nothing.

April 13, 2011

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April 06, 2011


I assume because I have been working on a great new project I have neglected writing as often as usual. Then again, writing ebbs and flows.

I am very excited to be working on the Big Texas Rally for Recovery in Austin to take place on October 1, 2011 (www.texasrecovers.org). At the same time I miss my little Sonshine while I am on the road.

Today while making my usual trek up I-35 I stopped at a roadside park for a few moments. I watched as a woman parked in front of me got out of her car then opened the back door. She helped an older woman out of the car. I assumed it was her mother. She held her hand as she walked up the sidewalk.

It occurred to me how much better I am doing today than I was a year ago. It also struck me things will never be the same. There will be occasions the rest of my life that I see a glimpse of a scene I miss. And memories will flood my heart. Seeing something we once did, flowers that I know she would love or just having an experience I long to tell her. Likely, life will always be that way. My gratitude hangs in having had those times to remember. And I feel so blessed to have had such wonderful and loving parents.

I will write again soon. Once I am quiet and hear that still, small voice that guides me to the place where my creativity lives.

Soak up Spring!

April 04, 2011

To You

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true Soul and Body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce, shops, law, science, work, forms, clothes, the house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating, drinking, suffering, dying. 5
Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.
O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago; 10
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.
I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you;
None have done justice to you—you have not done justice to yourself;
None but have found you imperfect—I only find no imperfection in you; 15
None but would subordinate you—I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you;
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.
Painters have painted their swarming groups, and the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color’d light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color’d light; 20
From my hand, from the brain of every man and woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.
O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are—you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries; 25
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)
The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;
I pursue you where none else has pursued you;
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me; 30
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these balk others, they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside.
There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as good is in you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you; 35
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.
As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give the like carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you.
Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you; 40
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—you are immense and interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent dissolution—you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain, passion, dissolution.
The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an unfailing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself; 45
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.