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A little box pops up on my Mac…Fathers Day is tomorrow.  I just stare at it.  Let it sit there for a minute.  There have been 14 Fathers Days that have come and gone since he passed away and each one is different.  The first one was very difficult and I had no idea that Fathers Day was even coming up and then I walked into a Rite Aid and there it was a huge sign, Fathers Day is Sunday June 20, 2004 with a huge display filled with cards and gifts. I stood there staring at it just like the little sign on my computer but with tears in my eyes and a twisting of my gut.  I whispered out loud, but I don’t have a daddy anymore and then remembering that the last time Fathers day was more than just a day to celebrate my dad, it was also the last day I saw my father alive.  Each Fathers Day after that is a remembrance of him and I going out to get lunch at a brewery in Irvine.  As a kid it was the day we made daddy breakfast in bed or gave him silly gifts but as an adult it was the day I took him to get him food and something related to beer.  This time he sat with a large tray of beer samplers.  I don’t drink beer, so they happily were all his.  He sipped and commented on the mix of odd hops from pumpkin beer to super dark brews.  He was happy as we sat and talked.  He had recently taken to letting my mom take the helm and work and him being the stay at home husband.  He would fix things, do laundry, watch a little tv and talk to me sometimes while I was on break from my working for a large corporation from 9 to 6.  I wasn’t immersed in my work, it was okay but I was bored and unchallenged by it.  I did like he money but hard to spend it when working 14 hours a day.   The company was noticing my lack of drive but I didn’t realize it until one day I was asked in a meeting, do you like your job.  I instinctively answered, of course, I love my job.   Knowing somewhere inside the real answer was, no I am not challenged enough and need to express some creativity soon or I will burst.   My boss nodded and said, well okay but I don’t think he was buying it either.  I think my father sensed it also, he would come and visit from time to time, everyone in the office loved him.  He had a huge child like smile and would brag about his youngest and how proud of her he was (that is me, if you didn’t get the reference yet).  I was so glad he was proud of me, I hadn’t always been the best daughter in the world but at least now I felt like I wasn’t letting him down or worrying him about my financial status.  I think parents always worry, even if just a little and a good parent like him, wants to help out even when I was financially taken care of.  When he would come to visit he would fix things, he even changed he handle on my refrigerator door so when I opened it and was standing at the stove, I could just reach in, grab what I needed and put it back.  He wanted to help his little girl and it was so sweet and I loved it but what helped me more than anything was our talks.  Was him opening up about his experiences, his childhood and those rare moments when he would talk about what it was like for him being my father.  Those are the conversations that stick with me, those are the things that on Fathers day I remember.  I only wish I had taken more video of him, recorded his voice more or written down every moment where we connected.  One in particular conversation stands out, the last one we had while sitting in that brewery.  We were both relaxed, and enjoying our food and I asked him what  being at home was like for him. He said he was enjoying it and then he told me the words that stuck with me, “I spent way to much time chasing money instead of my dreams”.  I knew in this was some regret, I knew he had wanted to do more sailing in his life, had wanted to teach but he seemed to be in a place of more calm than he had been in.  He seemed less stressed out.  I knew he was right and that life isn’t all about money but it is about memories and doing things that make us happy.  I also knew he was a good father and he worked jobs he may not always have loved because he wanted his wife and children to be taken care of and he was wiling to sacrifice some of his dreams to provide that for us. I had a great respect for him now and I saw him as wanting to be happy and at peace in his older years.  His children were grown and he didn’t have the same pressure.

Shortly before his death a month later, in a one on one meeting with my boss, I was asked the question again, do you like your job and I blurted out No I don’t.  He paused and looked at me and said, we knew this and were trying to figure out what to do.  It was discussed and we both agreed that I didn’t fit in at this job.  He said to me that I was like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole and it just didn’t work.  We decided I would stay for another month, giving me time to train someone new and look for another job.  Then my dad passed away and they graciously let me stay for another 2 months while I worked through emotions and looked for work.

Now 14 years later I have discovered so much about myself, that I love being creative, that I cherish times over things (though sometimes I do miss being able to just randomly buy a nice purse or a pretty new dress), that I can survive more than I thought I could and that I am happiest when being creative.  I think my dad would like my artwork, I think he would still say he is proud of his little girl.    I am not sure where my path with my artwork is leading me, but it is what makes me happy and I know he would want me to be happy.

I walk into a Rite Aid now and see all the Fathers day signs, cards and gifts and I smile at his memory, I know I still have a daddy, he may physically be gone but his heart, words and love are always with me.  Thank you daddy for all you gave me and still give me.

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I scrolled and scrolled, and I was being reeled in like a fish who couldn’t resist the tie line.  It had me in it’s grip and with each new post about Trump, Bannon or Devos I tapped on the article and read it like a soap opera addict, I couldn’t wait for the new plot line to come out each day.  However, unlike a soap opera which isn’t real, what I was reading was and I became engrossed in it, scrolling to find more stories and replying with intensity and a sense of feeling I was doing my duty in trying to get others to see what was happening to this country…but was I? or was I just involving myself in heavy drama and having this be a focus to steer me away from the death of my best friend.  Whatever the reason being, I noticed that I was experiencing stomach pains and nausea while I would be engrossed in political conversations and that when I stopped writing and got out of Facebook, my stomach started to calm down. I was having Trump stress pains and it wasn’t good.  I decided this wasn’t worth my health, it wasn’t worth getting so upset that I wanted to kick something or reach through my computer and yell at certain people who refused to see the hatred, it was causing me to be angry, that which I was upset for seeing happen, was happening to me. I decided to pull away.  I wondered, what will it be like if I change my role here?  What if I just become a silent observer? Can I do this? Can I read a news story or a post about something that infuriates me and not give my opinion about it?  It was time to find out.  I also wanted to know in this world of “socialness” what would happen if I stopped being social.  Did the world need to read about my viewpoints or see my posts on my dating foibles or viewpoints, I wasn’t sure but thought it would make an interesting experiment to not say a thing.  The exception to this was I did allow myself to post in the classified sections of Facebook.  I sell things here and there and didn’t want to stop myself from being able to make a little money here and there.

 

The silent journey begins….

 

The first week was hard, I would read a post and immediately click on the comment button and start to furiously write but then I would stop, hit back space and take a deep breath.  I would remind myself that I didn’t’ have to give my 2 cents on everything out there.  I just became about scrolling and reading and taking it in.  It was hard though to not comment when people would post a picture or video of an event that they were participating in or a birthday they were having.  To those birthdays I haven’t written a Happy Birthday to , I apologize but I am sending you hugs and love.  I would still watch cute cat videos but this time not post them. I would still look at the posts that asked all sorts of questions but not answer them.  Three weeks in and it was a little bit easier.  I would still get notifications but now they were mainly for classified ads or groups I was a part of.  The content on my page also changed drastically, from showing friends videos to showing more stories from 22 words and the Los Angeles Times.  My ads even changed, for some reason Facebook thinks I am bulimic because I must have read a story on it…and no I am not bulimic or anorexic.   I noticed that my friends still thought I was online based on answers they put on the questionnaires the filled out.  You know those posts that ask you things like name 4 places you have been, name 4 of your nick names.  These almost always have a question at that bottom saying name someone you know will respond or repost this.  My friends, even a month and a half after I stopped posting, still put my name.  I didn’t respond or say anything but I was amused by it.  I felt like the girl who wasn’t invited to the party but everyone keeps acting like I was there.  Oh you remember when so and so did this at the party and it was so funny and my response being, no I don’t know I wasn’t there.  They give you that inquisitive look, no, no you were there, I remember.  You shake your head and say flatly, nope it wasn’t me and they aren’t sure what to say because they really thought you had been invited or had been there but you weren’t.  I did have one friend who wrote to me on messenger, about 2 ½ weeks after I had stopped writing. I almost always replied to her sweet posts about her children and wonderful mate and she wanted to make sure I was okay.  It was very touching to me and I wrote her back explaining what I was doing.  I did write to her on and off through out the 2 months.

Not being contacted or having most people notice I was gone made me  wonder about my presence as a person and how strong is it really?  Not very when it comes to social media.   It hurt to some degree but I just took it in and realized it was something I needed to work through and figure out.  How I do this I am not 100% sure of but I know I am open to growing and also open to connecting with people on a deeper level.

I do need to note that I have certain people on Facebook, such as Family and close friends that I talked to outside of the Facebook world.  It is interesting because none of them said anything to me about not posting or not seeing me not commenting on their feeds.  I wasn’t completely void of connection with people.

In the last few weeks of not posting on Facebook, I find myself wanting to comment on certain posts of people who are going through specific things. I have a friend who just had a baby, a beautiful boy. I am so incredibly happy for her and her husband. I love seeing the pictures even though I think she worries she will be one of those moms who is in overkill mode with the pictures, she is not and believe me with all the trauma going on in the world, seeing a sweet baby sleeping in his father’s arms is something I want to see more of.

I am ready to enter the world of Facebook again but this time realizing that it is just a website, not a home. It is social…yes but more in a acquaintance sort of way. I also realize that in life I don’t want to be a part of a lot of the surface stuff, the how’s the weather conversations or what is considered to be small talk but I also don’t want to be in a war all the time with the political turmoil that is all around us.  Peace within myself and my body is more important now. It is more important to connect with people who want to go somewhere and have coffee or who want to connect and see how each other are doing.  I step back into this wondering what is next with it….How do I use this social media to enhance my life?  Do I use it to report to those I know what I am doing, after all a lot of the people on Facebook that I am friends with don’t live in the same city or even state, some don’t’ even live in the same country so it is not like I can sit down and have  a coffee with them. One of the reasons I love Facebook is for just this reason. I can see the people (whom I used to hang out with when they lived in LA ), what they are up to, what their children are doing.

The world we live in now has connection through online means.  It is a vessel but it is not the complete ship, I have realized that I need more, more people to laugh with, more people to sit across a table and see their smile light up or be in a movie theatre eating popcorn together and bonding over our love for the Jedi’s.  This is a connection that isn’t the same through a screen, it can’t hug me or bring me food when a friend has died and these are the connections I seek.  I love Facebook for the people, for the funny cat videos, for the inspiring stories and for seeing people whom I love dearly and miss across the miles but it is time, time for me to be in a non virtual world so that I can one day post about me and my friends being at a dinner table and laughing and connecting, instead of scrolling though my feed and seeing others do this and wishing it was me.

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Tomorrow (December 12) is my 41st Birthday.  To celebrate I want to write 41 things I am grateful  for.  In this life we tend to concentrate on what we don’t have, and where we aren’t. There is always something to be grateful for and at this time of the year it easy to forget when we are consumed with buying gifts, driving here and there in a frenzy. I challenge you to stop each day of this holiday season to take a minute to think of the things you are grateful for in this life, it is not hard to do, it can be from small things (I am grateful for the bird outside my window) to large things (I am grateful for the money a friend sent me). Recenter yourself and your life and have a grateful New Year.Here is my list of 41 Things (not in any particular order, they are all important to me)…

  1. I am grateful for my mom buying me a plane ticket to be with the family at Christmas.
  2. I am grateful for the sun shining today – feels so good.
  3. I am grateful for my adorable cat Romeo.
  4. I am grateful for my dearest friend Linda, for her being there for me so much, for making me laugh, crying with me and sharing with me through good and bad.
  5. I am grateful for my friend Christina, for her laughing with me, growing with me, spiritually guiding me, and for being an amazing woman and friend.
  6. I am grateful for my sisters, for there emails, phone calls, and caring so much.
  7. I am grateful for Verdugo Jobs Center and how helpful they are.
  8. I am grateful for my feetsie pajama’s and how warm they keep me at night in this cold weather.
  9. I am grateful for my friend Yavonne, for her humor, for taking me to the movies when I need to get out, for her wisdom, strength and inspiration.
  10. I am grateful for Clothing swaps, media swaps and swaps in general.  I have had so much fun at them.
  11. I am grateful for all of my paints, canvases and supplies, that allow me to express myself and do something I truly love.
  12. I am grateful for my god children, Jai and Naia, for there constant love, acceptance, joyful exhuberance, creativity and intelligience.  I learn so much from you.
  13. I am grateful for friend Sam. For his caring about me, for his humor, for his smile that stays with me, and for the sweetness he exudes.
  14. I am grateful for my friend Mary, for our late night phone calls about family, and life, for her dedication to our friendship and for her knowledge about so many things.
  15. I am grateful for nature, for the beauty that surrounds me, for trees, flowers (roses are right outside my apt) and for the beach and mountains.
  16. I am grateful for cotton candy ice cream from Rite-Aid…..Yummmy.
  17. I am grateful for the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, for what they do, how they inspire me and for being able to see people do care.
  18. I am grateful for movies that make me laugh, cry and think.
  19. I am grateful for my computer and for my friend Mark who lent it to me.  Thank you Mark, you are such and good friend and I am grateful for you.
  20. I am grateful for my Woman’s Artist group and for the support I recieve there.
  21. I am grateful for the Spiritual group I belong to, for the wisdom, caring and joy I get from it.
  22. I am grateful for having an adventurous spirit.
  23. I am grateful for my bed, yes you read right my bed, the best bed in the world that helps me get a very good sleep every night.
  24. I am grateful for all the wonderful gifts I have got for my birthday.
  25. I am grateful for chocolate…oh devine chocolate.
  26. I am grateful for the Really Really Free Market, for what it represents, for what I have got from it and for the people who run it.
  27. I am grateful for Alanis Morrisette. For the vulnerability, humor and growth she expresses in her music.
  28. I am grateful for surprises, oh how I love fun surprises.
  29. I am grateful for the memories I have of my dad, of his hugs, his laughter, and our wonderful talks.
  30. I am grateful for being able to express myself, living in a place where I can do that.
  31. I am grateful for chinese food, especially Wonton Soup from Panda Inn.
  32. I am grateful for the medical clinic that I go to, for the way they are patient, caring and help me when I need it.
  33. I am grateful for the Library, for me being able to use the computer to print things when I need to.
  34. I am grateful for Sunday drives that lead me to interesting places.
  35. I am grateful for being able to be in Santa Barbara to celebrate my birthday with my friends.
  36. I am grateful for the  new curtain rods I got today, they are very cool.
  37. I am grateful for my friend Charles who always remembers my birthday and sends me funny e-cards.
  38. I am grateful for Starbucks Vanilla Frappucino, man I love those little bottles
  39. I am grateful for Charles Schultz creating the Peanuts and especially Snoopy which I just love.
  40. I am grateful for being open to change, for being inspiring and inspired and for learning so much in my life and sharing my wisdom.
  41. I am grateful for having lived 41 years and still going strong, learning more and smiling at the journey ahead.
  42. This is the bonus…going into my 42nd year…..I am grateful for new adventures, for the love I have from family and friends and for dreams coming true.

Thank you for reading my gratefulness, now go share yours 🙂  

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Dear Britney,

Though the chances of you actually geting this is one in a million, I am writing it anyway.

I have been thinking of you lately, hard not to with you being in the news everyday. I haven’t been a huge fan of yours, I don’t own any of your cd’s, I do like a few of your songs though, Slave to You, Toxic and your newest Hit Gimme More. The cuteness, sexy thing bugged me, oops I did it again, that twirl the hair, I am so sweet and innocent thing but trying to be sexy…blah. Then evolved a bit with Not a girl but not quite a woman, speaking the truth about that awkward age in life when you are not a teenager anymore but not a full grown woman yet either.

I have watched you go from cutesy, sexy vixen, confused person. I thought back and rememberd my twenties…oh my no picnic there, confusing, sexual exploration, transformation, sometimes a bit too cutesy and wrapped up in a blanket of constant not knowing. I started to think wow, what would that be like and then add having huge fame, and being folowed every where you go, you gain 5 lbs and it is on the news, you cry in public it is in a tabloid, you where an outfit that is a wild choice and you are bashed nationally. Now this is part of the choice you made when wanting to be famous, but very stressful to deal with. I would have been a nervous wreck if every little thing I did was scrutinized.

Good for you taking chances, changing hair color, style, diving into discovery. I admire your shaving your head, for being sexy, for searching spirituality.

I want to tell you it is okay that you are not perfect, it is okay that you are going through discovery, I hope though that you take all you have gone through and choose to learn from it, You are so much stronger than you probably think you are. Your children love you, but love yourself first so you can be there for them, they need you. Don’t by in the media pressure or let them get to you. You are talented in many ways and turn to those who have come before you, those you admire like Madonna, who have been through this. For a while I saw you approaching spirituality and it seemed to focus you, I hope you go back to that. These days are not easy, hang in there. It does get easier though life is always this journey of growth, clarity comes when open to it. Allow yourself space to not be the center of attention but to look at the center of who you are and there you will find where you need to be going.

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