"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Being Thankful

As usual my schedule at this time of year is completely overwhelming as the end of the semester clashes with the beginnings of the holiday season. But in my car, stuck in traffic, I have time to think and observe and dwell. Understandably this time of year often turns one's mind to what it is they are thankful for. 


This morning I found myself contemplating things I am thankful for that I had not control over. I was born who I was when I was and that has afforded me privilege that others have not had the opportunity to access. The commute this morning was particularly long and I found it humbling to acknowledge the advantages I have been afforded, through no effort on my part, while listening to stories about racism, and war, and terrorism, and refugees as the backdrop of my commute on the radio.

I like to think that I treat everyone fairly. I like to think that I take everyone's potential and treat it as equal. The reality is I do not always reach the heights of enlightenment that I aspire to. I am hopeful that experiences like this morning will enable me to more supportive and empathetic and understanding in my practice and interactions with others who have had to travel a more challenging path simply because of when and where and to whom they were born. 

So below is my list of things I am thankful for, not because they made me a better person, but because they offered me a path to the life I live and love ..... a path everyone should have equal access to.

I am thankful I was born in the United States,
I am thankful I was born white,
I am thankful I was born a woman, after the sexual revolution,
I am thankful I was born to middle class parents,
I am thankful I have never had to wonder where my next meal would come from,
I am thankful I have never had to worry about where I would lay my head at night,
I am thankful I have never had to worry about accessing health care,
I am thankful I have never had to worry about my education,
I am thankful I have never had to worry drone strikes or air raids,
I am thankful I have never had to defend my sexual orientation,
I am thankful I have never had to defend my religious beliefs,
I am thankful I have lived in peace. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all .......

The Thanksgivings

Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer
We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here
          to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered
          that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products
          to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs
          for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming
          from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows
          for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder
          and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun
          that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank
          all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being
          of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs,
          the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard
          through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music,
          and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies
          on this occasion.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Has it really been that long........

I can not believe it has been this long since I have written a post. All I can say is life happens. My world, as usual, has been a tornado for the past year. Graduate school was a little more intensive than I had remembered it and with the program I am in requiring practicums & internships along side my everyday job it put a toll on just about everything - my health, my friendships, my marriage, my family and my sanity. 

But today I am in a good space. The Master's degree is finished, I have been promoted to a full-time faculty member at the University for which I work, my practicum led to a paid internship and in May I will graduate with the certificate needed to apply for a license as a mental health clinician. I have only eight more months of complete insanity before I can breathe and begin the new stage of life. I don't know if that means a new job or a new home or what. But I do know it means I get many precious hours back to do the things I enjoy instead of doing the things I have to do. 

It has been two years of working three days in one place, then two days in another, classes at night, grading papers, writing papers, reading chapters I can't remember once I have closed the book cover, exams, having four to-do lists, and many days driving half-way to the wrong place before I remember where I am supposed to be. Add to that raising a 9-year old who has to go to practices and swim lessons and drum lessons, finding time for quiet dinners with my husband, and our newest adventure of coaching soccer and my head spins just thinking about it. 

But I have learned a lot about myself in these two years - I have learned a lot about people - I have learned how to destroy & then save a marriage - I have learned how to be a more present parent - In essence I have learned how to find my Zen again. 

The reality is however that I do not do these things on my own. I have a family that supports me unconditionally in everything I do and a husband that sacrifices everyday so my dreams can become a reality. I am not saying he does this without complaint but he does it without question. We had gotten to the point where we had begun to take each other for granted, after 7 years of marriage I think a lot of couples go through that. We had become fabulous roommates but not very good life partners and in the midst of our chaos we learned to appreciate each other again. We learned to communicate again. And while I can't speak for him, I remembered why I married him in the first place. He is a family man and will do whatever it takes to make the family work. He cares for me when I have worked too hard and my body gives out and he supports our son who is at the heart of everything he does. He is a good man and I am thankful for him everyday. 

I have learned not to take what you have for granted because it can be gone in an instant.
I have learned not to let friendships fall to the wayside (though I am still working on this one).
I have learned that living life online is really not living.
I have learned that when it is all too much - just breathe.
I have learned to be grateful because there are so many others living in chaos & pain.
I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined.

In the midst of all the chaos I have been able to look back over the past year and realize that while my world is all topsy-turvy I have been able to continue to find beauty everyday. 

So I may not write here as often, but know I am still taking the time to observe our crazy world .......... and I will be back in full-force soon!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update on a fascinating & inspiring tale ..... Dear Arthur S.

Updated 7/31/14
Dear Board of Directors, Ms. Thorton, Mr. Gooch, the Board of Directors, and yes, Arthur S. 

Apparently you did not read my letter to Arthur S. and that is fine, because apparently you aren't listening to any of your customers former customers. Nor are you paying attention to the news, social media or your customers former customers. 

While Gordon Gekko is probably very proud of your
hardball approach to your employees by allowing them to apply for the jobs of the employees you are going to fire, we, your customers former customers think you are missing the point. 

You should all be very proud of yourselves. You are going to be the topic of case studies in business schools all over the world for years to come! It will be a lesson in how to destroy 52 year old, 3+ billion a year business with a loyal community of customers & loyal employees and turn it into a company hemorrhaging 9+ million dollars a day. 

I don't know who your public relation people are, but instead of firing your employees, I suggest you fire them. When you make statements like this:
“While Mr. Demoulas’ offer provides a path toward solving many of the problems he has helped to create, it is but one alternative among the options the board is reviewing,”
it indicates just how arrogant and out of touch you are. The "problem" Mr. Demoulas helped create is that he created an environment in which his employees felt respected & valued

And those respected & valued employees created a culture in the store that is unlike any other. You never have to look for an employee because they are always on the floor working. You never feel like you are a bother when you ask a question. They know where everything is in the store, whether they work in produce or dairy or mop the floor. But then again the statements from the board members indicate that you haven't actually ever been in a Market Basket

You have become an example of all that has gone wrong in our world. Where the middle class is ignored by big money and our concerns are flicked away as annoyance. But we are taking control back - remember, none of you would have your millions in dividends without your customers. At some point you really should address that. 

Part of your problem is that most of you are not from around here. You don't understand the history and the culture of Market Basket, where the great-grandchildren of your first customers still go faithfully. It is not just about low prices, it is about tradition and community. Not once have you acknowledged your customers except to attempt to hard-line your employees back to work in empty stores #youcantfirecustomerswequit!

I went to another store for my weekly shopping. I hated it and it made me sad. It was way too expensive, there was no selection, not an employee to be found when I couldn't find anything in their convoluted store set-up & confusing sales where you need coupons & courtesy cards to get the advertised prices. But I will keep shopping elsewhere until my Market Basket, the way I have remember it for 40+ years, is open for business. 

There is a lot of craziness going on in the world right now. Children dying in wars they didn't start, people fighting to get their country back, terrorists taking over a country that had but a brief moment of peace, deadly outbreaks that we have no idea how to control. But right here, right now, we the customers are taking a stand. We may lose Market Basket but it is better to have the whole thing close knowing we did the right thing than to allow arrogance and greed change the one thing in this world we could depend on. 

a former customer

Updated: 7/24/14
In response to the worker walk out at Market Basket, former CEO Arthur T. has made an offer to purchase the company. I am astounded and amazed at all the employees who have taken a stand for what they believe in. Contrary to some opinions of the situation, the employees are not only looking out for themselves, but they are looking out for the loyal customers. Some of the business model changes they were hearing about would have changed Market Basket from a low priced family business to an overpriced supermarket chain in line with what happened to Shaw's Market which at one time was also a small, family owned, New England chain. 

Let's hope that the board at Market Basket takes this offer seriously. There are real lives being impacted by this situation, not only the employees, a lot of whom have not gotten paid this week (my oldest son works there so I do have a bit of insight), but also the customers who have had to pay more for groceries (not only because there is no food on the shelves, but because they too want the company to stay the way it is), and the local supply chain, and the communities in which Market Basket normally thrives. 

It became apparent that the new co-CEOs are so out of touch with the history of the company, and the environment in which they are making decisions when they finally made a public statement earlier this week. How can they ask the employees to go back to work and serve the customers, when many of their customers are supporting the workers and even protesting with them. 

I also hope that this situation opens the eyes of other companies (such as Walmart) to the reality that if you treat your employees well, they will be loyal not only to you, but to the company. Some of the people that got fired for their support of the former CEO (Arthur T.) had worked for the company for 30+ years. That is unheard of in this quicker/faster move, move, move business environment we live in. It was the sign of a successful business model built on loyalty and trust - not only for the employees, but also for the customers. It is sad that it was basic greed that destroyed it all. 

So, I hope that the board has listened not only to the employees, but also to the customers and that Friday is in fact the last day of protest so people can get back to work and customers can begin to build their trust in a company they have learned to depend on.


Dear Arthur S.,
I know you got a lot of bad press over the weekend. You have probably been inundated with hate mail and it can't feel great to know that your employees would rather lose their jobs than work for you. All these years of working to get your cousin out of the picture I am sure you thought things would now be a walk in the park. How is that working for you? 

Anyway, I thought you might want to see some positives for your customers that have come out of your really poor business decision making:
  • Usually on Sunday mornings, when I go to Market Basket for my weekly shopping, I have to drive around the parking lot for at least 15 minutes to find a spot. I carefully scan all the rows of cars for reverse lights, stop every few feet for people crossing the parking lot to get into the store until I find someone leaving and then I pounce. Not this week. This week I drove in the lot, found lots of empty spaces, didn't need to stop for any pedestrians and pulled right into a spot up front. You have saved me time.
  • Usually on Sunday mornings I have to keep to the right going down the aisles because there are so many people (most of whom have no idea how to properly maneuver a shopping cart). I have to grab things from the shelves as I pass by so the people behind me don't rear-end my rear-end. Not this week. This week I had the entire aisle to myself most of the time. It was like a calm stroll through the park. You saved me some sanity.
  • Usually on Sunday mornings I have to wait at least 20 minutes in line at the deli. I'll get my number, realize there are 10 numbers ahead of me, and I try and scoot down the nearby aisles to get some stuff while I am waiting - and God forbid I miss my number - then that is another 20 minutes just because I wasn't paying attention. But not this week because there were no lines. Again, a time saver.
  • Usually on Sunday mornings, after I have dealt with waiting for a parking spot, waiting for the deli, taking my life into my own hands avoiding rouge shoppers I have to wait another 20-30 minutes in line at the checkout. I am particularly amused on the Sundays when the carriages have to be turned sideways so that people can maneuver in the front of the store. Have you ever tried to move a sideways shopping cart? But not this week! It was amazing - I took my half-full carriage right to a cashier with no line. There were even checkout counters closed - unheard of before this Sunday! More time saved!
  • And the piece de resistance! Usually on Sundays I spend a couple hundred dollars on my food bill. I know, a lot of it is junk food we really don't need, but it is what it is. This week I spent under a hundred - I guess this is what happens when you have fewer choices and the produce aisle is almost entirely empty! I saved money! 

I know that the 4% off promotion that Arthur T. initiated infuriated you. Really, how dare he dip into your millions of dollars in profit by rewarding your faithful customers for allowing you to receive those millions of dollars in profits - it is anarchy! And how dare anyone treat their employees with respect for all the hard work, dedication and loyalty they have shown to the company, it's insanity! 

I have been shopping at Market Basket since before I could walk - when my Yia-Yia brought me to Demoulas and I hope the board is realizing how amazing you are - really - it takes a special kind of person to destroy a brand that was built over decades on a business model of respect for its customers and employees. I hope the board is standing up and taking notice ... and that they give you exactly what you deserve! 

While I would love to continue to reap all the benefits of the decisions you have made, my conscious will not allow me to do so (that and there really isn't much food left at the stores for me to buy). Until Market Basket is returned to the "family" business I respected and trusted I will need to go elsewhere. Good luck to you Mr. Arthur S. I think you are going to need it.

A former Market Basket customer 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Literature Tuesday .... Where did the time go?

I had said previously that someday I would share some more of my silly poetry for a Literature Tuesday post. Here is it .... please be kind :)

Where did the time go?
     When did childish dreams end?
     When did worn out replace creative?
Where did the time go?
     Was it when I started counting calories?
     Was it when the last song played at the prom?
     Was it when my heart broke for the first time?
     Was it when my first dream came true?
Where did the time go?
     When did ambition become overworked and 
     When did romance become an item on a to-do
Where did the time go?
     Was it when I got the first mortgage bill?
     Was it when I said “I do?”
     Was it when the children stole my sleep?
     Was it when my needs no longer came first?
Where did the time go?
     When did the end become closer than the
     When did the journey end?
Where did the time go?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday ..... It Really Is All About the Bass!

A while back I wrote a blog about sexism in advertising and there was a video about how the "perfect" models we see in magazines are photoshopped to perfection. While I appreciated the woman giving the presentation I am not so sure she would hold the attention of young women of the world.

This however will:

I LOVE this song/video! I love the fact that while they are singing about boys that will appreciate their "booty" the women in the video are not sexualized, they are confident, they are happy, they are having fun. They are being sexual in a subtle refreshing way. They are not saying - eat all you want and become unhealthy, they are saying be happy with what you are born with and don't make yourself sick trying to be something you are not. That is at least what I got out of it.

It reminded me of the impact this Dove Soap "Real Beauty" project had on me the first time I saw it:

Dove also commissioned a study on "beauty" and women's concept of beauty. The below comes from the study's conclusion:

The study demonstrates that authentic beauty is a concept lodged in women’s hearts and minds and seldom articulated in popular culture or affirmed in the mass media. As such, it remains unrealized and unclaimed. This idea of beauty appears to have been replaced by a narrower definition that is largely located in limited ideals of physical appearance. It appears that the word “beauty” has – in many ways – become functionally defined as “physical attractiveness.” This definition of beauty is powerfully communicated through the mass media and has been assimilated through popular culture. It is this ideal that many women measure themselves against and aspire to attain. However, because this ideal is extremely difficult to achieve, women find it difficult to think of themselves as beautiful. This can contribute to unhappiness and low self-esteem and self-worth – especially among those women (often younger) who are more likely to take their cues from popular culture. 

It is almost reminiscent of Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" video in which she performed sans outrageous costumes in response to people who had called her ugly, who had said she looked like a man. This was another anthem for the youth to instill a belief that they are ok just the way they are (granted, Gaga is not as happy & uplifting as "All About the Bass").

Each time I hear an anthem song, or see a real beauty campaign I think to myself, this is it, things will change. But then I turn on the television and I see commercials telling women & girls of all ages that they need more make-up, or anti-aging cream to be attractive & keep their man. I open another magazine and see another unrealistic example of perfection women are supposed to aspire to. 

But with every new anthem there is hope .... there is always hope! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Stuff to Share - a mini golf, Pokemon extravaganza birthday!

I am not generally one to post crafts and how-tos and stuff like that. But this time I think my husband and I deserve a pat on the back and maybe a gold star for our backyard mini-golf course Pokemon extravaganza.

My husband built the mini-golf course in our yard - don't ask how he did it, or what materials he used, or where he came up with his ideas because I don't know. He is a magician in his magic workshop (formally known as a garage). He just goes in there and stuff comes out. His son said "I want a mini-golf course for my party" and voila we had one.

There were mazes, and water traps, the hole under the loop-de-loop was filled with popcorn (which the birds loved when the party was over). Then on the tropical palm tree hole there were sprinklers (which the kids loved in July). And because the party was Pokemon themed, we had Poke-golf-balls!

I wish I could say that the paint stayed on through the whole match - but it chipped on a lot of them. I even sprayed them with a sealer but they still chipped. For the time they lasted they were a big hit. 

Each kiddo also got a Pokemon wrist band when they started and a poke-badge when they were done. I forgot to take pictures of the badges but basically I took this idea from the necklaces I made for last year's party, searched the internet for Pokemon Badge images and printed them out to size and used gimp for a necklace. You can get all the pieces at your local craft store - I shop at Michaels

Then we made a Pokeball pinata out of old cardboard and some crepe paper. It was not the best pinata I have made - the Minecraft one came out better last year. I didn't add enough duct tape to the edges and it came apart easier than it should have. But it did look great while it lasted and it was filled with bouncy balls, tiny erasers, confetti, lollipops, gum, Pokemon rings and all good things so the kids were ultimately happy!

But the best part of the party - aside from the fact that we had a mini-golf course in our yard - was the cake! I got the idea from Pinterest (I know - huge shock!). It was so easy - I found a picture online of Espeon (his favorite Pokemon) and just did the frozen buttercream technique I got from Wilton. The cake itself was rainbow (another Pinterest technique) so I made some chocolate cupcakes because that really is his favorite flavor of cake and topped them with Pokemon cupcake rings. The Pokeball on top was half of the small soccer ball pan from Wilton, the main cake was a 16" square pan. It took 4 boxes of vanilla cake mix, 2 boxes of chocolate cake mix and 6 recipes of buttercream frosting! My husband, in his magic workshop, made the cake base (for a few minutes I wasn't actually sure it would fit through our back door - but I just made it with my hands under the board). There were 62 people at the party (39 adults and 23 kids) and everyone got cake! 

There are other cool parts of the party. Over the years we have collected a cotton candy maker, a slushie maker and a really cool popcorn popper so the kids get to have treats like at a carnival. Then there were the water gun fights after the golf game was over and the water balloon fight. There is also a ton of food (including my husband's famous chicken w/a brown sugar & Cavender's rub on the grill) and this year we had lemonade sangria (I make a new sangria recipe for every party). 

The BEST part of the party was that so many of our friends and family were there. Party day is always a crazy day - it is part family reunion, part high school reunion and part 8-year-old party. It is never unforgettable.