Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains

This wonderful photo was sent to me by father from Atlanta proving THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN actually works! Today's NY Times has an excellent article about the power of early reading aloud:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

January 1, 2016

Looking forward, looking back is the theme of my 2015 New Year's Resolutions. I am really not one for making promises for the coming year at the beginning of January. However, I am an inveterate list maker and adhere firmly to the tenet that if it is on the list, it will get done - eventually. I have put big ones on the list like buy new house, write book, buy car alongside get toilet paper at Costco and plant bulbs. All these things get done. The other day as I looked through my 2014 calendar, a year of extreme highs and lows, I moved in my mind a year hence and imagined myself marveling at the wonders of the past 2015.  That magical afternoon spent whale watching off the Channel Islands in February. The sigh of satisfaction when I finished my middle grade novel that has percolated for far too long. The heartfelt joy of seeing my senior dog, Dudley still alive on his 14th birthday in December. And then there was that day when I could actually do a handstand without fear. 

Looking forward, looking back is powerfully satisfying for me. If you will it, it is no dream. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Sunday in June...

In less than a month, my son will be graduating Stanford University. I don't think Costco sells enough Kleenex to carry me through the day. I cry at graduations of people I don't even know. Since Adam was a freshman, I've watched the ceremonies on line, laughed at the Wacky Walk, inspired by the speakers, hoping when his day comes he would get a good one. He did - Bill and Melinda Gates. Four more years, three more years, two more years, next year has come in a blink of an eye. High school seemed to last for decades while college flashed by in an instant.

I will never be invited to give a commencement address although life does bring unexpected surprises. As a mother and seasoned adult, there are assurances and advice, I'd love to give to a crowd of bright eyed 22 year olds. Commencement is the end of your college years but the beginning of your life as an adult, a closing of one chapter and an opening of another. It is hard to imagine as you tearfully leave the place you have called home for four years, filled with friends and memories, that the best is yet to come. The happiest, most fulfilling days are ahead with the spouses you've yet to meet, the jobs yet to be created, unborn children, dogs and cats, unbuilt houses, places yet to be explored. Most of you will not change the world but you can change your community or make a difference in one life. When confronted with a choice, opt for kindness. An open heart will take you to better places than a closed mind. College provides you with friends for life. Nourish those friendships. They are irreplaceable gifts.
Stay curious. Education doesn't end with a diploma.  Try things that scare you. Go against your nature and discover another side of your self.

I would never want to go back to being 22 or 23 years old. Those were the worst years of my life. I was misguided, undirected and depressed. I was floundering. If someone had given me a crystal ball to reveal what the future held for me, I would have been in awe. Maybe we should all have commencements every few years, the way some couples renew their vows. It would remind us of the possibility that the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Odd Bird - INTJ

When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, I turned out to be an odd bird, which didn't surprise me at all. Only 0.8 percent of women in the US have my personality type. I found throughout my life, some people don't quite know how to take me. I particularly remember a mother from my son's preschool days telling me that when we first met she thought my enthusiasm was very odd, a little crazy. After a while, she realized that my ebullience was genuine and we became good friends. 

I am an INTJ - Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging. The anomaly is that I seem to be an extrovert. I am outspoken. I enjoy connecting with people, old friends as well as new acquaintances. I love to talk, gush over new ideas and enjoy being an endless source of information.  However, my creative energy, my personal fulfillment comes from being alone. That corner of my being is shy and private, introverted.  I am fiercely independent and as I tell my husband not in jest, "No one's the boss of me." As for intuitive, if you want your mind read, come visit. I read people easily and when I am wrong, I am so off base that my misperception gives me a laugh, like the universe was playing a joke. Lately I have tried to fight the "thinking' part of my persona as I put such a high value on being rational and intelligent, I forget to open my heart. A little voice tells me to opt for kindness. Since I value being decisive and have little patience for wishy washy people, the judging part fits like glove. I like rules over chaos and work best when a deadline is at stake. 

There is comfort in all this information knowing that the me that is me. I can mine this information to become a better me. Oh, the joys of being an odd bird!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Slaughtered View

This view sings to my heart. Every time I return from a trip, the sight of the distant Santa Monica mountains and the lush lined Westlake Boulevard means I'm home. I will cherish this photo I took yesterday because within a few days all of the trees on the left side of the picture will be gone, cut to their stumps by a greedy short sighted developer, Regency Centers. Two hundred trees are in the process of being murdered including California oaks that are hundreds of years old. Why? The developer alleged the trees were rotted, diseased and a danger to the public. This turned out to be a lie but the chain saws didn't stop. I live in Ventura County in the Westlake Village section of Thousand Oaks.  Both county and town have the strict laws to protect native trees especially oaks. The city council turned a blind eye to this 25 million dollar redevelopment project to update an aging mall. The council's plea of ignorance concerning the tree slaughter is suspect. Suddenly the silver tags on native oaks were meaningless, their rules for protecting sycamores out the window. Landmark trees are being brutally killed for a few more parking spaces to make a shaded retail area into an asphalt desert.

There doesn't seem to be a word for tree murder but somehow seeing trees cut down for no reason wrenches my gut. I grew up under a canopy of 14 red and white oak trees on Long Island. Their yearly cycle was part of my everyday life. I am saddened by what is happening in my town. One of the qualities that attracted me to Thousand Oaks was the mature landscape. There was a sense of natural history, trees that existed before the area was developed.  With this latest example of lax environmental stewardship, I fear before long Thousand Oaks will have a new name - a Thousand Stumps.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Beyond Gigantic!

I am not musical which is why I was lured into Stanford professor Tina Seelig's online class on musical creativity. I do not even have a voice decent enough to entertain myself in the shower. Creating music as well as playing an instrument is so off my personal radar that I was curious to see what I could learn from this experience. The other aspect that attracted me was the size of the class - 22,553 people from all over the world! Ages range from 15 to 80. Communication is a bit unwieldy to navigate with endless pages of forums and concerns on the site. My first assignment is posted above, a record cover about me entitled Eventually as that is my modus operandi. Everything I do gets done eventually. If it's on the list it will get done - eventually. 

The cultural and intellectual diversity as well as the immensity of a class like this is mind boggling.  It almost becomes random as to who you choose to connect with.  Ideally I would like to be part of a team where everyone is from a different country. That aspect of the learning experience is in some way more valuable than the content of the class. This is a new paradigm of continuing education. This is the second online class I have taken. I came away from the last one with new friends I had never met face to face as well as a generosity of spirit that was alien to my physical classroom experiences. I am also a little dubious about teaching musical creativity in a few weeks. Trusting the process will hopefully erase my doubts. My ears are open to the adventure before me.

Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years Ago Today...

That Friday afternoon on November 22,1963 still has a clarity that no other day of my three years at Walter S. Boardman Junior High can conjure. I was sitting in Mr. Cortes' Social Studies class when the intercom phone on the wall buzzed. He answered with little sign of alarm on his face. He announced we would have to leave colonial times and return to the present. President Kennedy had been shot. My thirteen year old mind wondered why they had to interrupt class for that. The President wasn't dead. We were sent home an hour early in an orderly fashion as the buses magically appeared aside the curb in front of the school. Meryl Feldman, a small girl who was a year younger than I, was stricken with panic. She yelled from her front seat of the bus that we were in great danger. She was convinced the Russians would invade now that the President was shot. I exited the bus on Harold Street just like I did every afternoon. I walked down Moreland Avenue towards Grove Place, where I lived, my mind spinning with scenarios of disaster and confusion. On the corner, I overheard the mother of an older girl named Patty say to her neighbor, "He died." I burst out crying. By the time I arrived home, my mother knew, too. The next few days were a brown fog of endless black and white television culminating with the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswalt. We saw it live, first. There was no rewind, no pause. A year earlier was the Cuban Missile crisis and now this. The safe world I was born into was on shaky ground. As a child, I often went to sleep spinning scenarios of doom prompted by talk of fall out shelters and duck and cover drills. The earth was shifting off it's axis and I hoped to survive the ride. Unbeknownst to me in November 1963, a few months later Mr. Cortes would be standing in the hallway on a February Monday morning at Walter S. Boardman Junior High smiling in dismay at the crazed girls sighing and reliving the previous night's Beatles' performance on Ed Sullivan. He touched his chin and smiled, "I haven't seen anything like this since Elvis."