Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zat Waz All Zere Waz

Ok, I know the title was a stretch with my use of the letter Z.  Forgive me, it's been a long month.

I would like to extend a big square toothy thank to all who have stopped by from the A to Z Challenge.  I've met some wonderful new blogging friends.  You've made this month a joy with your funny, witty and touching posts.

I've found so many amazing bloggers who are willing to share their journeys with a sense of humor, wonder and grace.  To all of us:  Well done!  You've made my journey more vibrant, rich and full by using your talents to enrich and encourage.

To all the new Square Toothed followers:  Thank you so much for including me!  I am honored to be apart of your reading.  Thank you!  Here's to us all of us for finishing the challenge!!

Now, take a deep breath and enjoy your weekend.

Leave your comments here or e-mail me at
Here's to enjoying to the end!!

Friday, April 29, 2011


If you are a parent, without a doubt you have experienced that time period for about 3 years when all your small child does is sing the alphabet.  From the age of 18 months to about 3 1/2, choruses of the "ABC" song filled our home.

We are a house of readers, and for the longest time we've all been waiting for the youngest member of our family to be able to read on his own and entertain himself with a good book like th rest of us.  After 7 years of Goodnight Moon, we have finally arrived.

A few nights ago, I went into my son's room to tuck him in and he was lying in bed with a headlamp (like miner's wear) strapped to his head.  In his hands was Captain Underpants.  I asked, "What cha doing?"
His reply, "I'm reading."


Thursday, April 28, 2011

High E "X" pectations

You should see my kitchen right now.  Every surface is covered with sugar or flour or some other baking tool.
I am up to my eyeballs in frosting roses.

Laundry awaits.
The phone is ringing.

I need to write my blog.
I have clients I've all but forgotten this week.

I've had some high expectations of what I could accomplish in one seven day period.

What if I don't get it all done?
So...what if?  Surely, it will all keep.
Laundry, baking, phone calls, blogging and even work can wait...
Because I've got two cherub cheeked beauties waiting for me to play the Wii with them this afternoon.

Enjoy your evening!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


It's funny how when you don't do something for a few days you either really miss it, or don't miss it at all.  Case in point, going for a daily walk.  The last days around here have been blustery, and when God was passing out the graceful gene, I fell down before I got in line, and so rather than end up splayed out on the sidewalk with a broken leg, I skipped my daily walk.  And man, I've missed it.

Walking, to me, is a religion.  My day is better if I get up, get out, and get walking.  It has become such a habit that if I don't get out there, I can feel the tiny tethers holding me to sanity start to tug loose.  I have walked through sorrow, joy, change, anger and even depression.  To move and let my mind wander allows me to meditate and listen to truths deep within.

Preservationist John Muir said, "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and to storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

I love that:  "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings."  I currently don't live near many mountains--there are some lovely hills in the distance, but none close enough for me to walk to and be home in time to pick up kids from school.  But, I can put on my shoes, lace them up good and tight, bundle up in a warm coat and hit the sidewalk.  Somehow, I feel just as refreshed and energized doing this simple daily act as I do hiking in the mountains.  I can still get "good tidings" from the nature I encounter and feel the light of the sun or the rain or snow, all the while feeling my cares drop off like autumn leaves.

And who couldn't use a few less cares?

Enjoy a walk today.

The A to Z challenge is coming to a close this week.  I hope you have enjoyed the fruits of all those fabulous bloggers out there who have participated.  To catch the last few days, and see what all the buzz is about, click on the link to the right!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I've recently come to the disturbing conclusion that I am turning into my parents.  There have been subtle clues all along the way.  Sometimes my mom's voice comes out of my mouth when I say the word, "oil."  She is from the South, and the word, "oil" often sounds more like, "awl."

Other times, I find my dad in my very own hands.  Although he had prominent knuckles and my hands are visually knuckle-less, I catch myself using the same mannerisms that he used.  

Most curious is my slowly growing affinity for vitamins.  We used to tease my dad incessantly for how many vitamins he would take in a 24 hour period.  I recently cleaned out my vitamin stash, and learned that I was on my way to becoming the newest vitamin fanatic in the family.

There's good 'ole Vitamins C, B, E, & D.  Calcium for the bones, Co-Enzyme Q10 for healthy tissue, MSM/ Glucosamine for healthy joints, and low dose aspirin for the ticker.  These are in addition to any herbal supplements that are doctor approved.  As I head into middle age, I just want to cover my bases. 

What can I say?  I would buy snake oil if I thought it would do me any good.  

...It doesn't do any good, does it??   

Monday, April 25, 2011

Under the "U"mbrella

Just a sweet photo I caught this weekend in my backyard...

Whether you took a picture with your camera or with your heart, what moments did you capture this weekend?

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Maple "T"rees

Every Spring, I look forward to the budding of the maple trees.  We have a gigantic maple residing in our very own backyard.  Mid March, wondrous blooms burst forth from each branch, and the smell is heaven.

The subtle aroma transports me to a time when I was living in Montreal. There, this mighty tree is the life blood of an entire culture addicted to all things d'erable.  My first Spring there, I would walk the neighborhood on Mount Royal everyday.  Just behind St. Joseph's Basilica is a stairway. Located off of a dead end street, this hidden path is nestled between many mighty maples and during late April, the fragrance of budding maple flowers hangs thick in the cool breeze of the morning.

Since then, I can't breathe in that sweet scent without being filled with the memories of a secluded trail hidden amongst maple trees.

Enjoy your Saturday, and...

Joyeuses Pâques!

Friday, April 22, 2011

My "S"quare Teeth

Once upon a time, there was a girl named, Lisa, who's mother was a dental hygienist.

Growing up, the girl and her family spent a lot of time in the dentist's office where her mother worked.  Lisa and her brothers were always brought in after hours to get their teeth cleaned; it had nothing to do with the fact that these siblings enjoyed terrorizing one another in public. 

Lisa learned many things there.  

She learned that a water pick can shoot water thirteen feet.
She learned that when her loving twelve-year-old brother shoved an open ammonia stick (used to revive the faint) up her nose while she was fully conscious, that her scream could break glass. 
She also learned that while her mom cleaned her brother's teeth, she could pilfer as many pencils as she wanted from the office drawers.
Then she learned that she could return the pencils after her mom found out that she filched them...

Growing up the daughter of a dental hygienist wasn't always easy.  While some kids got away with not brushing, life in our house revolved around it. Curiously, our family motto was, "Broken bones will heal, enamel is forever--Protect your teeth!!!"

Just as George Clooney received an actual M.D. after is stint on E.R., being the daughter of an hygienist actually enables me to practice dental hygiene. It isn't unknown for me to wax knowledgeable on flossing and decay prevention at dinner parties.  I can name 13 different different mouth related diseases at the drop of a hat.  I know what "geographic tongue" is. And if that wasn't enough, I have neatly packed emotional baggage (including floss) for my own children, to drag around with them for the remainder of their lives, in the teeth department too.

As a result of my childhood training, the first thing I notice about people is their teeth.  We assign people nicknames in our house according to the cosmetic state of their teeth.  I, of course, am "the square toothed girl," my brother is "Frankle" named after the GINORMOUS appliance our orthodontist fitted him with as a kid.  My other brother I refer to as, "dentes perficio" (he of the perfect teeth) as his behind never had to sit for hours on end in the orthodontist's chair.  My mom, is "Why-do-my-teeth-look-so-good?  That's-right, 'cause I'm-a-Hygienist."  My kids are "Diastema" and "Brace Face" and my husband is named, "Hot Lips."
What can I say?
He is the exception to the rule.

Recently I was at the dentist for my 6 month check up (no cavities, thank you) when my hygienist, who reads this blog, said to me upon opening my mouth, "Wow, your teeth really are kind of square."

True, that.

Diastema, Square Teeth &  Brace Face
(Hot Lips not pictured.)

Do you have a nickname for youself?

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Thursday, April 21, 2011


Receiving is an art.  I've only met a few women in my life who do it really well.

A few years ago, I was standing in line in a grocery store and in front of me was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  She was in her mid-fifties, had beautiful white hair, and lots of laugh lines.  She radiated a sense of calm and peace.  As often is my case, I started speaking before thinking and I said, "Ma'am, I have to tell you, you are so beautiful!"

She turned to me and said, "Oh my goodness, no I'm not."

On the other hand, I have a friend who is just as beautiful in every way and when you pay her a compliment, she kindly says, "Thank you so much!!  You just made my day!!"

She has mastered the art of receiving--receiving a compliment sure, but whether it is a compliment or something bigger, it doesn't matter because the principle is the same: She knows how to receive.

Receiving is about having an open heart--open enough to allow others to help, comfort, care and love.  Receiving is about believing that you are worthy to be the recipient of another's kindness, another's love and another's care.

Receiving is the most graceful act we can learn in this life.  Being a fellow human being is no small thing, and each of us have the privilege to give, and to receive, the loving kindness of others during our sojourn here on earth.

You may be asking yourself,  "How can I receive?"
I say, start small.  If someone pays you a compliment, simply say, "Thank you." If your neighbor brings you dinner out of the blue say, "Thank you."  If someone cashes in their winning lottery ticket and gives you half, say, "Thank you."  (And then buy them a Rolls Royce.)

If at first you don't feel worthy to receive the gift they've given you, that's o.k.--but try to make a little room for that gift to grow in your heart.  Try to believe.

Then, and only then, can you receive.

Are you a gracious receiver?  Giver?  Which is more difficult for you?

Leave your comments here or e-mail me at sure to join the joy and find out what other A to Z bloggers are writing about by clicking on the buttons to the right!!    

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Remember the quiet wonders.
        The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.

                                                                          ~Charles de Lint

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Persistent Piano

"Practice the Piano!" she would call out from the kitchen.

The dreaded words, uttered by my mother each afternoon, never ceased to make my eyes roll.  It was the cannon blast that signaled the start of the daily war.

The piano was inherited from my Grandmother and had been in a house fire years before.  A strange (and yet delightful) fireman rescued her from the ravaged house and restored her to perfection.  The story goes, he felt so badly about taking in from the house and repairing it so well, that he returned it to my grandmother.  Somehow, it ended up in my parent's house after it was decided that it was my call and duty to play as well as she once did.

And thus it began.  From the age of 4 to 16, I took weekly lessons from a woman who spoke to me mostly in French.  My half hour with Madame Holly consisted of me struggling through pieces I detested.  I wanted to play jazz and learn the art of improvisation, she wanted me to be firmly rooted in Schubert, Chopin, and Beethoven.  She won.

At 16, I made my stand.  I called Madame Holly and told her I would no long be taking lessons.  I stopped playing all together for about a year.  I refused to touch the piano after enduring the encouragement (a.k.a. nagging) from my parents for so long.

It was bliss.

But then...I felt like something was missing.

One afternoon, I sat down and played and played.  My friends, Chopin, Schubert and Beethoven poured from my fingers...rusty, but there.  My foundations were solid.  I remembered what I had been taught.  I am no prodigy, but I to love to play just for the sake of bringing something beautiful to the world.

People often use the word "talent" when it comes to the arts.  In my case, talent has nothing to do with it.  Interest, yes.  I could have learned a million other skills as a child that would have served me just as well, but the value of playing the piano was larger than the music.  What I learned while playing was persistence.

I will never be the "best" pianist, singer, friend, writer, artist, teacher, mother, (or anything else I may do) but what does that mean anyway?  My value isn't found in competing with others.  It is found in rejoicing in other's successes, and in my own--as small as they may be. Each day I try to bring to this world my love, enthusiasm, joy, and attention but even if those fail--and oh how I fail--I can be persistent.

We are allowed to fail.  ALL OF US,  EVERYDAY.  It is necessary and even beautiful.  How else will we ever learn to exercise our persistence muscles?

What is important is that we begin again.

In what ways do you persist?

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Monday, April 18, 2011


A few years ago, I was in the middle of some personal turmoil--nothing too big, just some bumps in the road, and a friend said to me, "What an opportunity."


It took me a few moments to decipher what she thought was such an "opportunity."  
She explained, "Every experience, for good or bad, can be viewed as a trial or an opportunity."  
Rejection, death, loss, pain, ill health, winning the lottery, great kids, a loving husband, a jerk of a husband...any situation or relationship can all be viewed as something to be handled and endured, or an opportunity to find joy.

Over the last few years, I've tried to apply the "opportunity principle" to my life.  No doubt, it is easier to see the opportunity in some situations than in others.  Here are a few examples:

A friend shows up at my door with 44 oz. of the Nectar of the Gods (aka Diet Coke)--trial or opportunity?  OPPORTUNITY!  I get to spend time with a dear friend and my favorite drink.  

O.k., that was a no-brainer, let's try a harder one:  

The guy just above you at work takes all the credit for your ideas again--trial or opportunity?  OPPORTUNITY! This is your chance to put into practice your communication skills and stand up for yourself and your ideas.  You will find courage as you act courageously, and pave the way for others who have been bullied by the office jerk.
Your teenage kids aren't acting the way you think they should.  They are being disobedient, lazy, and just plain rude.  Trial or opportunity? OPPORTUNITY!  There is opportunity for you to communicate with your child, spend time with them, get to know them and draw closer as a family. Perhaps you will see the opportunity that it is time to let go of your preconceived ideas of what is right and allow them to grow into their own person...Or maybe you can just send them off to boarding school--either way,  you get the idea:  Everything in life can be a trial or an opportunity.

Here's one more:  You find yourself with an empty nest.  All your little ones have gone off the college, or are now in school for the bulk of the day.  You feel like you aren't sure what you are supposed to be doing, after all, you have devoted yourself to mommyhood, and you feel like, now what? Trial or opportunity?  OPPORTUNITY!  Find yourself again, take a class, visit a friend, go for a walk, join a book club, get a job, do something that makes the path light up for you.  You have raised your children to be kind, funny and hard working, now let them fly and seize the opportunity to explore another facet of what makes you happy. 

When faced with something difficult, I try to say to myself, "This is an opportunity." I tend to be more open toward whatever may be looming ahead. Sometimes the "opportunity" is to learn something new.  Perhaps the "opportunity" is to act with more grace, kindness and love to ourselves and then to extend that love to others.  

But what about the really tough stuff, you may ask?  I would say, yes, even then dear one, there is opportunity.  You get the opportunity to see what you are really made of, to realize your strength, to fight the battle and come out the other side triumphant, (and a bit bruised) but more loving and empathetic to others because of what you have experienced.  

And that is an opportunity.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The "N"orth End

I grew up in a neighborhood that was called "The North End." Just as the name suggests, it was on the North end of town nestled up against some beautiful foothills.  There were two areas on our end of town, the Highlands, and the North End.

The highlands were where the 'rich kids' lived.  Hills filled with Ranch style houses that boasted steep driveways and glorious views.  If you lived in the North end, then that meant you lived in the 'hood'--blocks filled with houses that were just a little too dingy to be considered nice.  But blocks filled with willing hearts, and capable people doing their best to create a little beauty in their corner of the world.

Childhood in this neighborhood was right out of a Rockwell painting.  Kids walked to school, doors were unlocked, people sat on their front porches watching the sun set just beyond the trees each evening.  Life was good for me in the North End.  I used to run from house to house, gathering friends for games of kick the can, or hide and seek, and our parents never knew where we were between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.--at which point, Moms all over the neighborhood would call out, "TIME TO COME HOME!!!"  You knew that when you heard the moms starting the 'come home shout' it was time to head in for the night.

I have long since moved from my hometown, but I visit frequently.  The North End is now one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city.  Bistros and Boutiques abound.  It is more polished, more vibrant; the dingy has been replaced by the gleaming, and once tired houses are now featured in Sunset Magazine.  

But the North End's roots are deep.  Kids still walk to school; there is a light at the crosswalk now.  Families ride together to the local market named after Hollywood.  Neighbors still talk to one another over their fences.  People smile and greet one another as they pass each other on the street.  Community is everything, and life is still good in the North End.  

How do you feel about your hometown?

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A to Z bloggers are writing about by clicking on the buttons to the right!! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

"M"orning Rituals and Dust Motes

As I am still chasing the mouse in my basement and I can't see the floor due to the laundry in haystack piles, please enjoy this previous post.  Hopefully, the mouse will be found and set free in roam in a nearby field and a Fairy Godmother, and her band of magic mice will arrive to help with the laundry...wait, maybe that's why he's here!!

I love the morning.  I like to wake up early when it's still dark and listen to the traffic start to increase on our corner as the minutes tick by.  I like to roll over out of a dead sleep and shut off my 5h55 am alarm and scramble to get dressed and out the door my 6 am to meet a friend to walk the dark streets of our neighborhood. 

I like to come back sweaty, and get sleepy-eyed beauties up from warm beds.  I like an ice cold diet coke and about ten minutes of news before I make lunches and cheer children to make beds and pick up their rooms.

My mornings are shaped around rituals.  And I love rituals.  One of my favorite authors, Alexandra Stoddard was introduced to me just as I was breaking out on my own as a young adult.  Her book Living a Beautiful Life was one of those books that has shaped my entire adult experience.  She writes:  
 Rituals is my term for patterns you create in your everyday living that uplift the way you do ordinary things, so that a simple task rises to the level of something special...Rituals elevate the was you feel about yourself, your life, and make you feel more peaceful and more free, more useful to others.  When these small moments are handled lovingly and with thought and care, they become more life-enhancing and make you more capable of doing more with the rest of your time."  Rituals bind us, make us into great people (if we choose) and can lead us to fully appreciate our days and hours, weeks and years.  A life made of rituals is rich, satisfying and full.
As I finish this post, I am sitting in the living room engaged in one of my favorite daily rituals: Writing the ever expansive Daily List of To Dos.  The kids are off to school, the laundry is humming away, my day is well under way.  The eastern facing windows are bright with a new sun.  The light is streaming through the windows giving the ancient wainscoting in this old house a honey colored glaze.  

As I look up...I can see dust motes swirling all around...annoying me with their ever present contagion of film over all the wood that needs to be dusted every, single day. more thing to add to the list: Dust, again.  Dusting is up there in my book with changing a diaper, babysitting other people's children, and attending office Christmas parties.  

Opportunity for ritual, or just a pain in the neck?

Deep breath.

Let the ritual begin.

What rituals make your life satisfying and full?

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lisa, That 70's Name

"L" is for my name, Lisa.

I suppose everyone has issues with their name.  After all, it's not like we got to choose it.  Rather, it was thrust upon us, unwillingly, often before our parents even took the time to get to know us; and here we are, saddled with it for the duration of our lives.

The name Lisa was a nickname of Elizabeth, at about the time dinosaurs roamed the earth and people thought that disease could be cured by "bleeding" patients--oh wait, those events didn't happen concurrently. Anyway, it's an old name.

Ironically, the name "Lisa" didn't become really popular until the 1970's, when all of humankind devolved into the most perplexing time period in the history of the human race.  Now, I was a baby in the 70's, so most of my experience was limited to diaper rash and formula, but as far as popular culture goes, that was one whacked out decade.

Here are some examples:

That 70's Dad
The primary mode of transportation was roller skates.

Hair was "feathered" instead of combed.

Trousers named after bells were considered cool groovy.

People collected pet rocks, named them and even "took care" of them...what??

Mood rings signaled others about how one was "feeeeeeling."

People streaked in public places, not just from the bathroom to the bedroom.

Men wore clothing called "leisure suits"--made from the oh-so-soft-and-never-chaffing wonder fabric,  
polyester.  These one piece suits showcased a man's fine physique (or not) and the extra wide collar framed  
HUGE sideburns, the size of lamb chops, ever so nicely.

After roller skating, women--and men, would don platform shoes to wear the rest of the day.  Although slightly shorter than some of Lady Gaga's shoes, platforms gave a psychological edge to the vertically challenged while making the vertically triumphant reach for oxygen masks to aid breathing at such high altitudes.

The Bee Gees were hailed as deities and all humankind bought combs in order to feather and fluff their luscious locks.  Women wanted to look like Farrah Faucet, and men wanted to too.

But what does this have to do with my name?  The fact is, I was named in a ridiculous era.  My nickname is, "Lease" like in, "Hey legal contract between lessor and lessee putting land or property of the former at the disposal of the latter usually for a slated period!  How's it going?"

Lisa isn't a name for a 37 year old woman.  (No offense intended to all those 30-something Lisas out there) For the sake of deleting the horror of the 70's from our collective societal conscience, it behooves all Lisas, everywhere, to change their names to something less polyester associated and something cooler...

Something like...Madonna.

How do you feel about your name?

Leave your comment here...and check out that other A to Z writers are blogging about by clicking on the buttons to the right!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lessons I've Learned from the "K"arate Kid

This is a re-post of a previous Square Toothed Girl selection...what can I say?  My house is filled with sick kids and haystack sized piles of laundry, and I have a mouse in my basement.  Hope you enjoy! 

Ridiculously, every Wednesday, my kids get out of school one hour early so teachers can sneak off to the local pub, prepare lessons, pick up their dry cleaning, scrape gum off of desks...or do whatever those magnificent teachers do on Wednesday afternoons with an extra hour. 

Anyway, Wednesdays leave the Square Toothed children with a WHOLE extra hour of doing something fun.  Today, as it is still winter here in the Northwest, it was snowing.  As the fluffy white stuff coated rooftops and newly budding trees, we decided to use our extra hour to watch "The Karate Kid."  Not only did we enjoy this relaxing time together, but learned some valuable lessons via le Kah-rah-tay Kid.

Lesson One:  Patience is a Virtue.   Ever streamed a movie from Netflix?  It's like watching mission control come in on the Space Shuttle orbiting above the earth.  I've had more luck time traveling to when the movie was showing in theaters in 1984.

Lesson Two: 1984 Ralph Macchio isn't such a babe anymore.  I was 10 when "Karate Kid" came out, and Ralph Macchio was my first big screen crush and babe-licious.  Posters from Bop! magazine plastered the walls of my room.  Ralph, aka Daniel-san, was every 80's girl's dream.  Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of Mr. Macchio these days...I wonder if this Square Toothed Girl would still find the Karate Kid poster worthy...and, would Mountain Man mind?

Lesson Three:  All good things come from Waxing On and Waxing Off.  Need to thwart a mugger? "WAX ON!"  Stubborn soap scum?  "WAX OFF!"  Can't get rid of annoying family?  "WAX ON!"  Need to clean up after you've given them a broken nose by waxing on?  "WAX OFF!"

Lesson Four:  Mr. Miyagi really IS all that.  Not only could Mr. Miyagi fix old cars, build awesome fences, and could take on twenty smart-aleck kids in the dim light of an alley, he was wise to boot.  Here are a few Miyagi-isms worth remembering:

Miyagi: What matter?
Daniel: I'm just scared. The tournament and everything.
Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel: Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?
*        *        *
Daniel: I don't know if I know enough karate.
Miyagi: Feeling correct.
Daniel: You sure know how to make a guy feel confident.
Miyagi: You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.
*        *        *
Miyagi: [repeated line to Daniel] Look eye!, always look eye!
*        *        *

I sat enraptured with the once golden Karate Kid, while my kids made fun of Daniel-san's girlfriend's hair. 
"Hey! We all had hair like that in the 80's, resepect your elders!!" I said.
"Just sayin' Mom...that hair is UG-LY.  But that Miyagi guy is cool."


What was your favorite 80's movie?  First movie crush? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"J"ust Showing Up

Recently, I had a little personal set back.  In the after shock, I was discouraged.  As I was lamenting my fate, a friend kindly reminded me that all I needed to do was, "Just show up."

What profound advice.

"Just showing up" means we keep trying.  Success is found in striving, working and aspiring after what we seek.  But sometimes, just showing up is all we can do.  We keep breathing.  We look ahead.  We hope.  We do the best we can, though our best may not meet the requirements of
others--but that's their problem, not yours.

So, day in and day out, in spite of discouragement along the journey, (or a million other obstacles) just showing up means we expect to move forward toward the direction of our dreams; and day by day we will eventually find the imaginings of our wildest dreams a reality.

How do you deal with discouragement?

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Imitation, the Sincerest Form of Flattery


Have you ever imitated someone?

I have.  As a kid, I loved every t.v. show I watched.  To express my admiration, I copied funny lines from various characters and used them in conversation later.  I soon became known as "the funny girl," a title I still hold--at least in my family circle.

As an adult, I still imitate others.  It isn't quite as overt now.  Instead of copying witty phrases, I shamelessly steel good ideas then make them my own. In fact, I've stolen so many ideas from one friend, as I walk through her house, I can say, "Got it.  Got it.  Want it.  Got it."  Imitation isn't only for tangible things either.  In fact, imitation works particularly well for ideas, attitudes and outlooks.  Ever known someone who's joy shines so bright is makes you walk a little taller?  Ever try to act and think like that person?

In the art world, imitation is not only tolerated, it is embraced.
Let me explain:  As an art student in University, students are often taught about artists then asked to reproduce that style in a work of art.  For instance, let's say you are studying Picasso.  Typically, a professor will outline Picasso's great works, then you spend a majority of your semester reproducing one of his works in order to learn Picasso's process.

As you get further into your studies, you learn more and more about other artists, styles, and philosophies.  Finally, towards the end of your art degree, armed with techniques and processes, you are allowed to make the leap to establishing your own artistic style.

The same idea applies to our entire lives, no matter how much we try to avoid it.  We imitate the people who raised us, (for good or bad,) we imitate our friends, (hello junior high!) we even imitate our kids (I know, right?)  The point is, while we should strive to make our own stamp on the world and our lives, to some degree, we all are products of imitation.

Author Stephen Einhorn wrote,
Do not be ashamed about imitating others.  Ask how other people do things.  Try to think your way into how they think.  Learn from others, and be generous with teaching others.  Imitating is allowed.  Curiosity is allowed--it is even a good thing.
The Art of Being Kind
Which brings me to my point: If we see something we admire in someone, it's o.k. to imitate them in order to understand them...for a while.

However, imitation is ultimately short lived.  (I can attest that I nearly never use a funny line from an 80's t.v. show in casual conversation...) Remember our art class analogy?  Eventually, we are set free to make our own style based on the foundation of what we imitated.

Then the real joy begins:  We get to emulate those we admire, to explore our own creativity and to find out who and what we are really about.  There, in the pursuit of our imaginings, our best selves wait, to greet us like old friends, just waiting to be found.  

Who do you imitate?  Emulate?

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Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for...Grey Hair

When I was 21, I did volunteer work for my church for eighteen months. About the same time, my thick, black hair started to turn grey.  With the help of Madame Clairol, it was fairly easy to cover those pesky grey hairs in under an hour.

After turning 30, however, my grey hair quadrupled in quantity.  What was once so easy to hide now took $100 every three weeks to keep a secret.  I looked like my 20 year old self for about a week after getting my hair colored, then the 'skunk stripe' (where the grey meets the dye) would appear and I would comb my colored hair over, to hide it, until my next appointment.

One day, after hearing me lament about my skunk hair, Mountain Man said, "Why don't you just let it go grey?"  I'd toyed with the idea for a few months, but I just couldn't come to terms with being a 32 year old with a head of grey hair.  After an exasperating week of comb-overing, I went to my hair stylist and begged her to take her clippers and buzz it down to an inch long all over my head.

The hair I had been fighting against for so long was gone.  I had never felt so liberated from my body.  Usually, it was something I fought against. Frizzy hair begging to be flat-ironed, tiny crow's feet needing moisturizer, nails and toes that need polish--the list could go on and on...there is just a lot of upkeep.  And one huge item on the list was gone.

Eventually, my hair grew in, in all its grey glory.

I am the only 37 year old with grey hair that I know.  Often, other women ask me when I'm going to dye it and oh-so-subtly encourage me to join the rest of women kind who dye their hair...but I just can't go back.  My grey hair is a part of me--it isn't who I am, because I am not my hair, but I won't fight against my body and the aging process that is a part of living.

Not to say that I don't try to eat right, get enough sleep, use sunscreen, and just take care of this precious body I've got.  But as far as my hair is concerned--its grey, just the way I like it.  And if you dye your hair and it works for you--well done you for doing something that makes you feel good about this husk you've been blessed with.  Do what works for you, and I'll do what works for me; and hopefully, one woman at a time, we can come to peace within ourselves about embracing the changes our bodies experience as we get older.

Women are like fine wine, we get better with age.  Yes, I have grey hair. My bum is bigger that I would like it to be.  Sometimes I groan when I get up off the floor.  However, I have never felt better about my character and the person I have become.  And that well-being extends to my appearance too.  My grey is a part of me, so is my backside and even my bad knees.  I can fight against this body or I can give it the honor and thanks it deserves.

And I've found there's more joy in honoring it.

So, if you see a new wrinkle, or a few greys pop up overnight, don't fret. You are beautiful just the way you are.  After earned every single one of them.

All my grey glory.

How do you feel about aging?

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for...

Fads I've followed.

Like anyone, I've given into societal fads.  Trends that, upon retrospection, have left me shaking my head in disbelief.  Fads like, shoulder pads.  WHO THOUGHT OF THAT AND WHY, OH WHY, did they think it was a good idea to make any body look bigger???

Or, tights with shorts.  Some on you may not remember this early 90's phenomenon of wearing opaque tights under a pair of oh-so-dashing pleated front shorts.  This ensemble was topped off by a shoulder-padded blazer which made the person wearing the outfit look like a rectangle with toothpicks.

It looked something like this:

Or what about peg legged, waist high jeans?  Looking through some pictures the other day, my daughter asked me, "Hey, why did you and your friends wear 'mom' jeans in high school??"

Or, leg warmers, scrunchies, Birkenstocks (o.k. I still wear those from time to time...) jelly shoes, saying the word, "Like"---like every other sentence, HUGE horizontal striped shirts hanging off one shoulder, leggings, big hair and using the word 'Rad!'

Oh wait--I still do that.  What can I say, some fads die hard.

'Rad' huh???

What fads did you follow?

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Enjoy to the End

In my particular culture, the word 'endure' is a word that carries a lot of weight.  I often hear, "We must endure to the end!"  Somtimes said with eyes closed while the speaker emphasizes the word 'endure,' (as if that makes it more believable) the phrase has always bothered me; because in all of our endurance and making it to the end, we forget the joy that can be found in the here and now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that life isn't hard--it is.  But even along the most difficult parts of our path, joy awaits if we allow our hearts to be open to the possibility.

I recently lost my father after a long illness.  It was, and is, hard losing someone, anyone, close to you.  There were moments before he passed when I would think, "Can this please be over now?"  Not that I wanted him gone, but rather, for his suffering, and to a lesser extent our family's suffering, to be eased.

I live about four hours from my dad's home. With traveling back and forth, delegating work assignments and managing life, I was overwhelmed.  People would ask me questions and I would forget what they had asked before I could respond.  I couldn't sleep.  I seemed to spend my days pacing around the house (I work from home) and would begin projects only to walk away a short time later. My mind and attention were always over the mountains.

As he became weaker, I became more distracted.  Paying attention to the 'endurance' of my schedule and personal demands overshadowed my ability to find the joy in my days.  I was kindly reminded by a friend to, "just breathe" (at least once a day,) and to try and find the joy my journey.

Shortly after he went into hospice care, I was able to be with him for ten days.  It was a gift to be able to say goodbye, to laugh, to cry, to just enjoy time together.  For me, it was some of the most precious time I have ever spent with my dad.  During this time I was able to be still and just breathe.  This is when the labor in the birth at the end of this life, called death, became joy.

One afternoon, I was sitting on the couch with my dad.  The afternoon sun was streaming through the windows.  The house was quiet.  Dad was dosing, and I closed my eyes for a moment...grateful for time.I vividly remember breathing deeply in, and at the same time feeling a sense of peace come over me.
The circumstances hadn't changed, but rather my ability to deal with what was happening had changed.

Of course, the moment didn't last, there were other difficulties awaiting just around the corner, but then again, isn't that the way it is with life?  We can choose to focus on how hard everything is all the time--and it is hard, or we can choose instead, to recognize the gifts around us, and find the joy.

So yes, endure we must, if that's the word you want to use....but as for me, I will enjoy...
Enjoy to the end.

How do you enjoy your life?

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for...


For every person the point of a diary is different.  For me, it is a means to record meandering thoughts, details, feelings, abstractions and anything else, including utter fiction, in order to help me be more self aware.  "The examined life is the only life worth living."
I don't know who said that, but it is in my actual diary, which I call a journal, because the word 'diary' sounds too much like diarrhea, and that just takes me back to the days of newborn babies, lack of sleep, and that fuzzy headed anywhere-but-here feeling that umbrellaed my late twenties/early thirties.

So why is this blog, given all my baggage with the word 'diary', called Diary of a Square Toothed Girl?

And the answer is:  Synonyms for the work 'diary' include the words, journal, record, chronicle, and log.

Well, the word 'journal', in my culture, is resplendent with guilt.  There is a lot of encouraging for people to 'keep a journal', and since I never do, I always end up feeling bad (not.)  I can't seem to keep a regular updating of my life in bad hand writing that some distant-yet-to-be-born descendant will eventually decide to throw in the rubbish bin because they are incapable of deciphering my chicken scratch and really, who is gonna care what I did on Wednesday March 4th, 1988?  (I was probably dancing to Duran Duran on that day.)

As for the word 'record', that's just a little too scriptural for me.  And, since my name isn't Moses, or Abraham, and I haven't recently built a big boat and loaded it with manimals, (yes, MANIMALS) the word 'record' is out.

That brings us to the word 'chronicle'.  Perhaps if I had more magical Lions, cheeky British children who never seem to come out of the closet, and fawns in my blog, then I'd wholeheartedly embrace the word 'chronicle'.  As it is though, the only fantasy at Diary of a Square Toothed Girl is my long held belief that-- (please envision a taller, and more grey haired version of Scarlett O'Hara speaking to the heavens with fisted determination here) "As God is my witness, I will fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans once more!!"

But what about the word 'log', you may ask?  Well, that's just redundant since a blog is a weblog,  and it  reminds me of Captain Kirk.  "Captain's log. Star date...."  Unless William Shatner calls me this afternoon, 'log' is out.

So, diary it is.

P.S. An explanation of my Square Teeth comes on 'S' day--April 22nd....see you then!!!

What's your blog called? 

Leave me a comment and I will check it out!
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Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for...


A celebration of self is the name of the game today.  And this is why:

You Are Beautiful.  (Click on it, I dare ya...)

I believe that everyone who comes to planet earth is valuable, unique and beautiful.  Believing that others are beautiful brings joy.  Believing in ourselves is our greatest power.  And when we believe in our worth, our goodness, our significance, then we can help others see that worth in themselves. And when we begin seeing others an individuals, beautiful and whole, then we are able to stack our hatred in the corner and embrace the beautiful in everyone.

Celebrate your beautiful self...

What makes you beautiful? 

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for...


Not 'blooming' as in, "You blooming idiot!" But literally, the blooming of trees. Spring is about ready to burst forth here in the Northwest, and this is the view I see from my front window each Spring for about 3 weeks:

With views like this, is there any doubt in the potential beauty that is all around us?

Enjoy your Saturday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tossing It Out A to Z

The challenge:  Write everyday for 26 days consecutively (except Sundays) working by topic alphabetically.

The result:  26 days of writing on just about anything.

Except...this morning, I was all geared up to publish my first Tossing It Out post when the door bell rang.  I love it when the door bell rings, and so I raced to the door to find a local talk show host on my front porch with his camera crew ready to film my house for a segment on their morning show!

Mountain Man, with the help of my mom, Magnolia, recently ripped the aluminum siding off of our darling Arts & Crafts home, and painted every, single, square inch by hand.  We've been getting a lot of attention as we live on a rather busy corner in our town, and all the hard work has apparently paid off now that we are going to be on TV!

I am a child of the 80's, and like all good children of the 80's, believe that true success, happiness, validation and the solution to any problem can be found on television.  Wanna be popular in 1986?  Papa, don't preach!  Simply don black lace gloves, leggings, big hair and bright red lipstick...thank you Ms.Ciccone.

More recently though....Can't decide if you want to pursue med school or a career on the Broadway stage??  Easy:  Join the cast of Grey's Anatomy. That will guarantee that you are able to rattle off medical jargon like a real doctor, but you will also get to sing like your Great-Aunt Evelina, who always has a few too many at Thanksgiving dinner, and likes to strip down to her skivvies while she belts out 'Natural Woman' at the top of her lungs on top off the dining room table.

As a child who was devoted to television, I am now a proud parent of children of my own and an advocate for the "International Didactical Instruction On Television Society" or IDIOTS movement.  Our slogan is, "Why raise your kids, when television can?"

I believe that television is the perhaps the greatest tool we can use to instill family values, civility and compassion in our society. Especially if we abide by the lessons taught in any episode of The Bachelor. Which are, namely, that a woman's worth is based solely on how much plastic surgery she has had in order to 'catch' a man, and that there is no need to use your words to solve problems when you can simply pout your lips and cry a lot instead.

But what does my devotion for television have to do with the fact that the Square Toothed/Mountain Man Clan house will soon be on the local morning show and I will finally get the recognition I deserve/am entitled to for painting my house?

Nothing, because none of this is true.

A is for ad-lib...or, April Fools.

Diary of a Square Toothed Girl does not endorse nor censure television, morning talk shows, The Bachelor, pouty faced women who cry incessantly, Madonna, Grey's Anatomy, parents who allow television to raise their children, or Aunt Evelina who continually insists on bringing her karaoke machine to holiday gatherings...and for the record,  Dr. Hunt is way cuter than McDreamy or McSteamy.