…dancing acrobats…

Had a nice conversation with my daughter yesterday. We covered a lot of territory.

A niece on my husband’s side attends college and works part-time in Chicago. She and her cousin, my daughter, met for brunch, catching up on one another’s life. A little later, my daughter met a dancer friend who just recently moved to the Windy City to be with her boyfriend.

The young lady didn’t decide to audition for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago until the last minute. At first she had difficulty with the online pre-registration. When she finally figured it out, the online registration had closed. She was instructed to call a number and was told she could show up and register in person at 8 a.m., an hour-and-a-half before the first group of 50 was to take class. Upon showing up, my daughter’s friend grew nervous as she watched dancers arriving for their scheduled audition times. Deciding she’d made a mistake to wait until the last minute, she fled never to return. Smart move.

My daughter and I agreed that auditions are not to be taken lightly. Dancers must be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to compete. It’s even more imperative when the company is one of the top choices for hundreds of dancers looking to be hired.

During our conversation, I learned why it was my daughter was one of the thirty dancers cut after the first few seconds of the choreography portion of the audition. She couldn’t hold a handstand quite as long, and comfortably, as those who weren’t cut.

Imagine that! Dancers are now required to include acrobatics in their bag of tricks. Not something my daughter learned to perfect in ballet.

Today’s choreographers are probably incorporating such moves as are found in Cirque du Soleil and street dancing, to “push the envelope” and to thrill audiences.  

Times-they-are-a-changing. And how! Like it or not…we’ve got to adjust…or wither on the vine and die.

I’m no quitter; neither is my daughter. Especially since life offers so much more than we could ever possibly sample. So while it might be trite, it’s nonetheless true…

…when one door closes…another door opens…

………hugmamma.

at long last…

WOW! Have I been on hiatus or what?

With the advent of 2013 I’ve been out foraging through the forests of life, overturning any rock or fallen limb searching for…change.

Rather than stagnate doing the same old, same old, I’ve been giving my cozy, little world the once over. Until I ventured forth outside the boundaries of my old skin…I didn’t realize how glazed over my eyes had become.

It happens…over time.

I liken it to putting on my new eye glasses from Costco last week.

Deutsch: Blaue Brille, eingeklappt.

Deutsch: Blaue Brille, eingeklappt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lifting the jazzy, hip eggplant-colored frames to my eyes for the first time I nearly toppled over.

It’d been a few years since I’d updated my prescription. Everything in the retail warehouse seemed to fly at me. The friendly sales clerk advised me to walk around…get comfy with my new look.

Happily, I’m finally settling in with the new and improved me.

My vision is crisper, and my life is catching up slowly, but surely.

I’m getting the hang of French…”Je m’appelle…hugmamma. …Comment t’appelles – tu?” Just when classes are winding down.

Aaahhh…but there’s always French 2.

Juice

Juice (Photo credit: hepp)

Hubby and I are juice fanatics now. Best way to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies. Besides chewing them, we’re now swallowing them as well.

I recommend Bed, Bath and Beyond‘s NUTRI-BULLET. Lots less fuss and muss than those mega-juicers.

Pilates almost did me in. Two privates with a lovely instructor nearly had me in traction.

Five visits to the chiropractor reintroduced me to my old body. Aches and pains that were like old friends…minor by comparison to what I’d endured after a couple of sessions on the reformer.

One 9:30 morning yoga class…an hour’s drive away…was enough to convince me that I couldn’t make it last long term.

So I’m stretching and walking…stretching and walking…stretching and walking.

I made it to 8 out of 10 Creative Writing classes. The folks were lovely, their stories compelling, but I didn’t derive much personally. So I’ll not be returning.

88/365 New Smart Phone

88/365 New Smart Phone (Photo credit: Theophilus Photography)

Instead, I might try a class to learn how to do more with my Smart Phone.

I can dial up friends and loved ones. I can text them. I can check voice mail and emails. I can take photos and view them. I can barely use Tango which allows me to see the person with whom I’m talking.

But it’s the APPS! I’d like to tap into those little gems. Wonders of this advanced social network world in which we live.

We all know…YOU SNOOZE…YOU LOSE!!!

…embrace change!…if i can do it…so can you…

tango dansen op het Spuiplein

tango dansen op het Spuiplein (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (marche vers Pâques ))

………hugmamma. 

evolution…mine

English:

English: “The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on earth Wonderful performing geese, roosters and musical donkey”. Chromolithograph. Français : Affiche originale pour le cirque Barnum obtenue par chromolithographie vers 1900. Traduction du texte “Barnum & Bailey, le plus grand spectacle sur terre. Ses merveilleuses oies et coqs dressées, son âne musicien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been 2 years since I gave birth to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. I did it in response to events that unfolded in the media like Barnum and Bailey‘s Three Ring Circus. The first was the 2008 Presidential Election; the second,  Michael Jackson’s death. Like many, I remained glued to my TV set for days on end.

What finally got me to put my thoughts into a blog was hearing the same refrain over and over again…”The American people feel…”

I often babbled to myself  “How the heck do they know what I think?” and “Who said they could speak for me?” Tell me you don’t have the same thoughts when you hear the pundits spinning their half-truths, or downright lies?

Well some things never change.

Here we are again…smack dab in the middle of another Presidential Election. Complete with the same spinning…day in…day out.

I won’t lie though. I love the high octane excitement, the back and forth, the “he saids” and the “he meants.” However I still cringe when I hear…”The American people feel…”

While little has changed on the outside…there’s been movement within.

I’ve evolved.

The change hasn’t been seismic. On the Richter scale…maybe a 2. Just enough for me to notice.

Two years ago, blogging was a new adventure for me.

At first I dabbled, writing more introspectively. I regurgitated the beauty I saw in the world around me. I reveled in happy thoughts and memories. My words were measured. I had no desire to tackle controversy, not wanting to offend. Never mind that I might be offended.

As I broadened my horizons to include other members of the Word Press community of bloggers, their realities seeped into mine…and mine into theirs.

Not all the stories I read had fairy tale endings. Not all writers came from happy places. Some came from dysfunction, as had I. Many sought encouragement and confirmation, as did I. There were safe havens. Places to go…for kind words, compassion, hope.

I was emboldened to take a stand. Speak my mind…my truth. And I supported the efforts of others to do the same.

Strangers…some who became friends…affirmed my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Feeling encouraged, I moved forward taking control of my own life.

There was no looking back as I made my way, a day at a time.

I realized however, that my newfound confidence must be tempered with a large dose of humility. Having a following of readers is heady stuff. It can become an ego trip. Focusing too much upon becoming popular, as in how many hits are garnered, can lead one astray from one’s goal.

My goal has always been to write, and write well. If I publish a book someday, as some have suggested I do, that will be a bonus beyond what I’ve already accomplished.

With a lot of help from all of you, I’ve learned to accept who I am. I’ve gained the strength to stand firm in my convictions. I’m comfortable in my own skin. Others’ opinions matter, but no longer to my own detriment.

I matter…finally. 

Like the caterpillar that metamorphoses into the butterfly and the chameleon that adapts to its surroundings, I’ve gone from being a wise, old coot at 61…to being a wiser, older coot at 63.

Perfect I ain’t. I’ve still got the same body in need of repairs now and then. I don’t always eat right…and exercise regularly. I’m always behind the eight-ball when it comes to paying my respects to fellow bloggers…and accepting awards from some. I still lack some technological know-how.

I still make mistakes.

Think Tank

Think Tank (Photo credit: Robiwan_Kenobi)

In spite of my shortcomings, and who doesn’t have a few, I’ve planted my feet firmly and proclaimed to the world…

…i have arrived…and i ain’t going back…

………hugmamma.   😆

 

 

swept away…on a tidal wave

That’s how I’ve felt these last couple of months. And while the “waves” have subsided, I’m still dealing with the upheaval that is currently my life right now. Suffice it to say that the New Year is bringing changes…possibly to my daughter’s life…and definitely to my house.

As my daughter contemplates her life going forward, my husband and I are in the midst of a bath/bedroom remodel. I’d forgotten how time consuming and involved it is preparing for the day it all gets underway.

Four years ago when we remodeled the kitchen/dining and living rooms I worked closely with the contractor’s project manager. I specified how I wanted things to look, and he made it happen. This time around I’m working with a different contractor and I’m my own project manager. Saves the cost of paying a “middle man.” However I now see that the job isn’t as easy as I might have thought.

As project manager I must see to all the details, making certain that they are absolutely correct. Not only do I now get to pick out the tiles for the shower walls, floor and curb, the bathroom floor and the baseboard, but I must ensure that the square footages are accurate when I place the orders. If not, I’ll be to blame and money I thought I’d saved by doing the job myself, could be a loss instead.

Of course with remodeling comes the inevitable packing up and storing all the stuff that is normally kept in the bathroom and bedroom. So until I get it all neatly stored away elsewhere, all the other rooms in my house look like an earthquake hit, tossing everything around.

It doesn’t help that Christmas still peeks out from around every corner. Yes! I’ve not yet put the holiday decorations away. I planned to do it in February once all the last get-togethers were finally over and done. But then the “tidal wave” hit, engulfing our family in changes that we knew were coming, but for which we were nonetheless unprepared.

Rather than sweat the fact that I’ve not been as adept at handling the fallout as I like to be, I’ve tried to emulate the calm in the “eye of the hurricane.” What needs to get done, will get done. What can wait will have to wait…like housework and blogging. 

I blog because I love to write, and tell stories, mine and those of others. I know that readers who enjoy my storytelling will return when I’m back on track. At least I hope you will. Until then I pray your lives are full, but not as overloaded as mine is at the moment.

I thank God for the New Year… in which I’ve promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep.

…i just thank god that i’m alive…and able to do…what needs doing…

………hugmamma.  🙂

daily post challenge #196: are we becoming too dependent upon technology?

I think the question is centuries upon centuries upon centuries too late to debate. When the wheel was invented, mankind never looked back. When Leonardo da Vinci put wings on a human being, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when. When Alexander Graham Bell tinkered with two cans and a piece of string, the IPhone was inevitable. Change, progress and capitalism are triplets in an ongoing enterprise.

The status quo is no longer static, if it ever was. Regression is impossible given mankind’s penchant for the next best thing. And capitalism…how can you even ask? Isn’t everyone aspiring to be Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or someone of lesser means, like the millionaires? Don’t we all wish we’d played the powerball lottery when the lucky winners are announced. I always query my husband afterwards as to why we didn’t buy a ticket. Then I’ll go out and buy $5 worth, lose, and forget all about the lottery until the next one makes millionaires out of middle-class folk like us.

If I were truly a hobbit in a cave, as I often say I am, perhaps then technology would have no bearing upon my life. And maybe there are those who live in isolation from the rest of society, like undiscovered tribes in South America. Unfortunately for these rare souls, technology will come knocking one of these days. They will be the unlucky recipients of the havoc technology has wreaked upon the earth.

Bulldozers are leveling rainforests. Man’s inventions are flooding the atmosphere with toxic gases. And in our race to stockpile more stuff, the internet and all its affiliated paraphernalia are making it easy to do from the comfort of our chairs and keyboards. We no longer need to expend the time or energy to get the stuff ourselves. It’ll be shipped in 7 to 14 business days.

So there’s no question that we are all affected, if not dependent upon technology and its benefits. And yet we seem to have a system of checks and balances. Having brains that obsess about everything, bodies which age without our consent, and Mother Nature prohibiting us from over-reaching, mankind is saved from the brink of total annihilation…so far.

Technology is a force with which to be reckoned, and we seem to be squeezing the life-juice out of it. Rather than dicker over our dependence, we should maintain constant vigil over its use for the common good of all people, and all species. But I’m not so sure we’re all on board in that regard.

…can we make the best of…pandora’s box…now that it’s wide open? …hugmamma.    

“spammed” out of wordpress.com community

 

WordPress.com

Image via Wikipedia

It seems Akismet has probably decided I’m no longer welcome out there in the wordpress.com community. Can’t complain really because they’ve kept thousands of spammers from getting through to me. So I’ll keep blogging, in semi-isolation, possibly leaving comments on other blogs, hoping they’ll be “unspammed.” WordPress support staff seem as clueless as me, so there’s no real answer to my disappearing comments. Tried to post one this morning on “Success Network Recipes.” My comment “looked” like it might be accepted, but it wasn’t.

Now I know how spammers feel, except I’m not trying to coast on someone’s publications. But it is interesting to see firsthand, the downside of blogging, and technical control. When I tried to email Akismet again as suggested by a member of the wordpress.com support staff, the screen that came up asked if I wanted to buy into spam protection. Confused I emailed back to the support staff at WordPress asking if I now had to purchase spam protection. I’m awaiting their reply. The blogger of Success Network Recipes said in her post Perfect Solution for Blogging,”

This is a very good question, Lucy. Recently I noticed WordPress have been adding charges to their .com version on certain elements which were free before, such as getting your API key to activate Akismet

This is all a little frustrating, to be sure. My foray into the wider world of wordpress is probably being seen as intrusive by the controls that are locked in at Akismet. Unfortunately, the nuts and bolts of computers can’t “think outside the box.” So perhaps the human in control of making decisions is away from his station, or perhaps there’s no human at the helm. Hmmm… Makes you wonder.

The other possibility is that my user name “hugmamma” is too suggestive. When I first began blogging, I did get a few spammers who obviously thought I was a “madame.” One foreign gentleman asked what I meant when I wrote “a babe in the woods” when I spoke of being a total novice to blogging. I had to laugh at what must’ve been going through his mind. Me at 61? Duh, I don’t think so. For sure he didn’t read my “About” page.

All kidding aside, I’m in a marginal “pickle.” I can write, but I can’t participate. So I’ll go back into my hovel like a hobbit, keep writing, and ponder my options. Meanwhile I hope you’ll keep stopping by to visit and read, and hopefully leave me comments, which I promise will not be spammed. As a wise soon-to-be 25 year old soul, my beloved daughter, once said to me…

DSC_3525

Image by ph54441 via Flickr

 

the only consistent thing in life is change…so we’ll see…we’ll see…hugmamma.

children, “clean slates”

A favorite saying has been that “Children are clean slates, upon which adults leave their chalk-mark.” Although babies are most likely born with individual personalities, it’s also very likely that adults influence their development to a great degree. Our passions and prejudices are passed along directly, or through osmosis. We are human, so it’s impossible to guarantee perfection when raising children. Nonetheless, we should make a concerted effort to guard against leaving a legacy of negativism to future generations. Easier said than done.

Change is inevitable; life isn’t stagnant. But while we can’t stop change, we can  control its direction. Viewing life through a baby’s eyes, it would seem only natural that he or she would want a pleasant environment in which to grow and  flourish. It’s not far-fetched to think that adults would agree.

Unfortunately, life has had a head start, our world seems already “set in stone.” War is waging all around us. Battles are being fought on every front: rich vs. poor, liberals vs. conservatives, Wall Street vs. Main Street, blacks vs. whites, Muslims vs. Christians, U.S. citizens vs. illegal immigrants; big businesses vs. small businesses. On the front line fighting are the stockholders, politicians, consumers, lobbyists, NAACP, Ku Klux Klan, “skinheads,” religious fanatics, families, farmers, pharmaceuticals, health insurance companies.

The fallout from our self-inflicted war is its negative impact upon our society, particularly our children. Many fear they will be saddled with our trillion-dollar national debt; I fear they’re already saddled with a psyche of distrust and dislike for anyone and anything, alien to the world in which they’ve been raised.

Children are “killing” children, as in the case of Tyler Clementi’s suicide brought about because his college roommate and a friend posted pictures on YouTube, revealing that Clementi was gay. Obviously the instigators grew up with a certain mind-set, and felt certain their revelation would be well received by millions having the same mind-set. That way of thinking, “us against them,” has been generations in the making, passed along without thought of the consequences to the most vulnerable among us, our children.

When we become adults I wish we could remember how it was growing up as children. Rose, a black girl at the orphanage where my mom worked, was forever picked on because she was mentally slow, stuttered, and built like an Amazon. With nowhere to go when she graduated from high school, my mom brought Rose into our home for a couple of years, to share what little we had. Another orphan, Fuji, was teased because he was slightly built and had effeminate tendencies. And I can remember telling “white lies” in elementary school to cover up being poor, wanting desperately to be accepted by others. How did we children know that being black, disabled, gay and poor were qualities that set us apart, like lepers, like outcasts? Why did our perpetrators know they could victimize us, and not be punished by the adults? It’s no wonder we grow up doing what was done to us, or by us, as children. Can the cycle ever be broken? I hope so.

I’m still trying to “wrap my brain around” the Human Rights Campaign. While I can’t identify with gays in their perception of life, I know in my gut that they are human beings deserving of the same respect that I demand for myself. Knowing several gay men, I’m aware of their incredible talent for business, and commitment to doing their utmost in their positions, most of them in management. Perhaps because they feel they have to prove their worth above and beyond their straight peers, gays are sensitive to their surroundings and those who cohabit them. Granted, there are those who are jerks, just like there are straights who are jerks. I avoid both, not because they’re gay or straight, but because their personalities don’t coalesce with mine. Period.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not an easy undertaking, not because it CAN’T be done, but because of society’s pervasive mind-set. Get rid of the mind-set, and I don’t see a problem. As children, weren’t we told to “get along with others?” I don’t remember being told only to play with “straight” boys and girls.

One of my best childhood guy friends, Michael, was very fashion conscious, seemed like one of the girls during sleepovers, eagerly joined in learning new dance steps, and was as heartbroken as me when my boyfriend and I broke up. My brothers referred to Michael as a “mahu,” (Hawaiian for “gay”), but that didn’t deter me from having him as a close friend. My mom thought he was a great friend, my girlfriends liked him, and my other guy friends, sports jocks, liked him as well. In fact Michael wasn’t gay for he had a serious crush on a mutual friend, who felt badly that she couldn’t return his feelings.

I couldn’t imagine the world without the gay men I know, and about whom I care. They’re like me in all the ways that matter. They love, they feel, they bleed. Why wouldn’t I let them defend me by serving our country? Their sexual preference seems to be the only obstacle to military duty. Delete that, and it seems a “no-brainer.” But eliminating historical prejudices, especially ones based upon subjective interpretations of the Bible, seems an impossibility. My one voice can’t “move mountains,” but as Gandhi said “Everything you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s important you do it anyway, because no onelse will.”

For me, those discussed in Eve Conant’s Newsweek article “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”  are the faces of the Human Rights Campaign, gays who want to serve and, perhaps, die for our country.

Joseph Rocha had always wanted to be in the military. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, trained to become a handler working with explosive-sniffing dogs, and found himself part of a small, specialized unit in Bahrain. Banned by law from discussing his sexual orientation, he had a hard time explaining to his peers why he didn’t party with them, or even join their bawdy conversations. He became an outcast. Fellow sailors ridiculed him for being gay. At one point they locked him in a dog kennel. Another time they forced him to eat dog food. In 2007 he was discharged after signing a document admitting his homosexuality. But if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed–as many expect will happen in the coming year–Rocha says he wants to serve again. “You never lose that sense of duty and service and love for country,” says the second-generation Mexican-American from Sacramento, Calif., who will graduate from the University of San Diego this spring. “It’s a unique and beautiful thing most of us feel we were robbed of and would take the first chance to have it back.” …

Lissa Young, 48,…A West Point grad from a military family–her father was a fighter pilot–Young had an exceptional 16-year military career before she was outed in 2002. At that time, she was a Chinook pilot and West Point instructor who had just been selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel. …

To fly commercial planes, Young needed new training, but her financial security–including her retirement benefits–disappeared the day she was discharged. She was in her 40s with $50,000 to her name and no job experience outside the military. … she was hired by Raytheon as a salesperson for air traffic-control systems in the Middle East. But she felt awkward in the corporate world. …She…made her way to Harvard.

Now Young is on the verge of getting her doctorate in education, still hoping to teach at West Point as a civilian if she can’t rejoin the military. As a cadet at West Point, she was the first female to serve as a deputy brigade commander, and she returned later becoming a full-fledged instructor. ‘I’m a product of West Point,’ she says ‘They molded me, I took an oath to dedicate my life to leading soldiers.’ …being in the Army and serving isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.’ She would love to fly again, and if allowed back in, wants to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. …

Bleu Copas, 34, joined the Army after the attacks of September 11. ‘I thought it was the honorable thing to do,’ says the native of Johnson City, Tenn. But after almost four years in the service, the then-sergeant–and fluent Arabic speaker–was anonymously outed. …He accepted an honorable discharge. ‘My commander told me he didn’t want to do this, that I was one of his best leaders,’ …Despite what happened, he says he wants to return ‘for the same reason I signed up in the first place: to serve my country.’

The Army invested a lot of time and money in Copas before it dumped him. He spent 18 months in intensive Arabic training in Monterey, Calif., and had top-secret clearance for handling sensitive documents. These days he works a desk job at the Department of Veterans Affairs back home, helping soldiers transition to civilian life. He doesn’t feel comfortable in a suit and tie, and he’s forgetting his Arabic. ‘It’s very rusty now; I don’t have a lot of use for it in northeast Tennessee.’ He says he’s not bitter, but it’s clear he’d like a change. ‘I’ve been told I’m too forgiving; maybe that plays a role. But if there are new opportunities, I just want to take them.’

After 9/11 ousted gay vets felt hopeful they would be recalled to service. ‘These were high-performing people who knew the nation was in need and couldn’t imagine the military wouldn’t want them,’ says Bridget Wilson, a San Diego lawyer who has represented gay and lesbian soldiers for decades. Yet pilots, linguists, and trained gunners watched from the sidelines as the military loosened restrictions on high-school dropouts and former drug users to boost recruitment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘It really made us crazy when they waived convicted felons into service,’ Wilson recalls.” 

If my daughter were to go to war, I’d want her fighting alongside soldiers who are the best in their fields. But I don’t anticipate having to worry about my child going to combat, so I’ll leave it to the parents of children who might one day decide to enlist. Would it be better that they be caught in a hailstorm of fire with trained soldiers, gays and “straights?” Or all “straights,” some having been drug addicts or felons before joining? I’m not saying they can’t change, but what’s their proven track record? 

just my opinion…hugmamma.

break out the champagne!

Make it an arctic cosmo for me, from Coho in the East Lake Sammamish Shopping Plaza, or a lemon drop martini from Old Hickory Steakhouse in the Grand Ole’ Opry Hotel in Nashville or a blue martini that tastes like a margarita from Ellendale’s in Donelson. And you, my friends, grab your favorite drinks and lift your glasses, or beer bottles, in a  toast to our awesome collaboration thus far. Some time today our blog hit the 1,001 viewing mark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday there were 72 views and today there are 36, and counting. It’s taken a month and four days, from 7/13 – 8/17, to arrive at the start of our journey over a rainbow of new memories going forward. Thanks to all of you for extending “a hand-up” by reading what I write about, giving credence to my thoughts, ideas and values. You and I may exist on the periphery of mainstream media but our lives are no less meaningful, for their effect on others are like ripples on the water when a stone is tossed. Change can, and does, happen one person at a time. Such a person was Gandhi, who said “Everything you do in life will be insignificant. But it’s important you do it anyway, because no one else will.” 

And so, I raise my “full cup” to toast you in thanks for allowing HUGMAMMA’S ATTENTION TO DETAIL to be a part of your daily lives. As we say in Hawaiian, “Okole Maluna!!!” …..”Bottom’s Up!!!”

and so I blog, with great appreciation…hugmamma.