Ferguson

So today on Facebook I posted a piece written by a black woman who was raised by white parents which Gloria Steinem had originally posted. It’s been up for a few hours and there’s only one comment. No likes. A friend of mine “unliked” it saying it was biased. I think it’s right on. The writer describes what it’s like to be black in a world where racial profiling is a part of our national profile. It’s a very moving and passionate piece expressing what the writer feels in her own life and asking us, the white people of the world, to do something. She says that prejudice can only be changed by the people who are prejudiced. We are all prejudiced. We can’t help it. No matter what the reality was of the shooting incident in Ferguson, the cops there would probably have hesitated if the guy had been white. Yes, he may have robbed a convenience store prior to the incident, but that mean he should be shot on sight? The only way we can have true equality as a society is if those of us who are in the position to speak up do so. What would it be like if everyone was “colorblind”? It’s not up to the underdog to change things, it’s up to the people of the world who never had to worry about being the underdog. Change happens at the top of any organization. If everyone made an effort to look at their own misplaced fear of those who are different than we are, interesting and positive things will happen.

Hybrid Drivers: Angry or Not?

Hybrid Drivers: Compassionate or Insane?

So every morning Stan and I go for a two mile walk long before most normal folks have even batted one eye. It’s really lovely here by the bay and one can hear many sweet, early morning noises. I used to listen to the news on my IPHONE but one day the battery died and I realized it was much nicer to hear only the natural noise of the neighborhood. We walk up a long set of stairs about half way through the walk and Stanley tries to delay things by pretending to have to pee or sniff the very important grasses along the way.

At the top of the stairs there is a fairly busy street that runs across Sausalito and up to the highway. The street is narrow and it is difficult for two cars to pass one another due to this narrowness as well as the cars parked on the side of the street. As we walk along this street we often pull into a small space between the parked cars to allow a car to safely pass us. I hear the cars coming and usually find a place to pull into with Stanley as I find it safer for both of us.

Now I think of myself as a patient person as well as one who tries to be courteous to others but these days I have noticed there is a war starting in our neighborhood. The hybrid car drivers are really angry and have no patience at all. I noticed this a few years ago on the highway when I became aware of the speed and aggression of Hybrid car drivers. It actually frightened me. So I began to hypothesize about why this was happening. Did the bulk of hybrid drivers buy the cars because they wanted to save money on gas? Did they buy hybrid cars because it was better for the environment? I really don’t know the answer to these questions but I do know that for the most part hybrid car drivers are really pissed they are in these cars in the first place and seem determined to show the rest of the world how aggressively they can drive and how fast they can go.

The other morning Stanley and I were honked at by a hybrid driver who had silently driven up on us and even though we were within our rights to be walking on the side of the road, the driver apparently felt we weren’t giving her enough attention.

The honk was really loud and made both of us jump. I turned, startled by the noise and thinking there was a real problem, only to see that this woman wanted to go even faster than she had been and I was delaying her by seconds by walking my dog around a car.

Now I am perplexed. Isn’t part of the thinking in having a hybrid about being environmentally aware and isn’t sound a part of that awareness?

Isn’t there another solution? Like rolling down her window and calling out,” Excuse me, please?”

The one thing I have managed to maintain (knock on wood!) in my old age is my hearing and those hybrids are really quiet! If I were driving one I would worry about honking at people at such close range thinking I might hurt their ears or be bothered by my rudeness.

The last time something like this happened a young man honked at me and I shouted out at him, “That’s very rude!”

I know, I know. I should learn to just ignore these people but I can’t because I think they have no idea what they are doing.

This young man stopped his car and asked me what I had said which was very strange as I know he heard me. Perhaps he wanted to become belligerent with a 5’5 inch 120 pound lady walking a beige Chihuahua who is really a mutt but is so much more! In any case I said that he would probably have a heart attack if he didn’t learn to calm down and become a more patient driver. Then I told him meditation might help and that there was a class in the evening right down the hill.

He sat there in his car with his mouth open and then just floored his gas pedal and shot off into the morning. You can’t tell me these folks are happy.

So here’s what I think. I think the hybrid drivers are sheepish about their cars and want to prove to the world how powerful they are both mechanically as well as spiritually and they are unable to do either.

I will never drive a hybrid car as I would never progress beyond my own driveway. I like to make a lot of noise when making an entrance!

This Year

NobelPrizeSymbol
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The year my heroes died

This year quite a few of my heroes and friends died: Howard Lester, Walter Shorenstein, Dodie Rosecrans, Dick Goldman, and on and on. Yes, it is true that for the most part their lives were long and fulfilled but I still miss them and always will.

 I wonder if we are creating heroes as we did in past generations. People who accomplish a lot in their lives and give away a lot in return without looking back to see if what they have given away is still helping to make them more important. I love to have heroes and to me, heroes have been people who march to the beat of their own drum without looking around and listening to what others around them are playing. I know Howard did this as I was lucky enough to have a conversation with him about his “Maverick” side.  Walter, Dodie and Dick were the same.

Dodie was vibrant, curious and very intelligent until her dying day and spent her life in a state of exploration and excitement about one thing or another. She could have cared less about someone’s background or wealth when she included them in gatherings at her home. She cared about creating new ideas and putting different people together for various causes.

Walter and Dick accomplished a lot in their work lives and gave a lot in their philanthropic lives. Howard ‘s generosity was apparent at his own memorial mass where a few spoke of his many charitable gifts and the difference he had made in the world.

I wonder where we are going to come up with another generation of like-minded people. People who give without looking back and people who are compassionate members of our community. I wonder who in the younger generation will fill these shoes and have a generous and mature approach to managing and contributing their wealth? Even if people do not have great wealth I wonder if they will keep on giving.

I found a hero in today’s New York Times: Liu Xiabo, a Chinese poet, writer and dissident who was awarded the Nobel Prize. As he is in prison he will not be able to accept it but his work is the kind of work that makes me think of heroes. He has been outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government and as a result of this has spent much time in prison.

His statement at his court hearing was quoted by the Times:” I have no enemies and no hatred. Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience.”

All I can say is that is a hero.

Much like my friend, Marla Ruzika who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq while counting civilian victims of war, and countless others who devote their lives with passion to improve the lives of others, thank you for living!

I look forward to reading and meeting more heroes in my life and being very grateful we have them in our world. Maybe some would argue that business leaders are not heroes but in return I would say that without the funds many contribute we would not have the world we do. Just as without the words of dissidents like Liu Ziabo governments would not be challenged into change and the lives of many see improvement and more freedom.

Mercury and it’s bad habits

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...
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mercury is in retrograde for the next couple of weeks so don’t expect things to go smoothly. Plus there is a Piceas full moon this afternoon around 1:30. If you try to work anything out with someone you will undoubtedly find yourself frustrated. People these days seem to be lacking good listening skills. They listen with “me ” ears and so all they hear is “me” things. This is not so good for understanbding.As a matter of fact, listening this way makes it impossible to come to agreement on anything. I think everyone is frightened of what is going on in the world whether or not they are rich or poor, male or female, old or young. Things right now are a mess. I read the other day that Americans have no faith in the stock market and are not investing there. Duh! Does it take a NY Times reported to explain to us? I think it’s pretty obvious why. One of the biggest issues is the fact that the media seems to believe they can convince us that it is safe to invest in the market again, safe to buy a home again. We lost faith in the media some time ago and probably won’t get it back for some time. If the media continues trying to persuade us  the market is a safe place to be , we may never have faith in news again.Even Warren Buffet is trying to persuade us that now is the time to jump in. Well, guess what? none of this hype is working and won’t be for some time. “Save your nuts”  is still my motto. Don’t have any important conversations either today or tomorrow. Get out in the sun with your Dalmatian stones and skip a few! Buy rice futures. After the weather issues in Pakistan they will go up fast!

Leave time to cool off…

Hot Things

If you take something off the stove after it boils and let it sit, after a while it will cool off.

This is my latest credo in life.

It works for everything.

Love affairs

Arguments

Business decisions.

It is just a great mantra for life.

If something feels too hot to handle then let it sit and you will understand it better.

If you meet someone who makes you speechless, wait and see how you feel after a few days without thinking of them.

If you argue with someone you love, don’t be needy and dependant, give them the space to heal.

If you have to make a decision that fills you with anxiety, wait until you know the answer.

Don’t send emails immediately.

Don’t kiss on the first date.

Hold your breath and believe in magic and buy some Dalmatian stones for joy and fun.

Take a drive out to Marshal and stay at Nick’s Cove and you will believe again in Nick and Nora or Bogie and Bacall and all your dreams will be revitalized.

family wall

In our house in Maine there is a family wall where many memories are drawn or painted. The first measurement of a child’s height was done about 35 years ago when my daughter, Christina, was 2 years old. The wall is now covered with lots of memories and people who visit continue to make more of them. This house is the only house I own which I have owned for this long a period of time. In my real life outside of the months of summer I buy and sell real estate like a grass hopper. I love to move. I love exploring the new property and finding new nooks and crannies to hide in or hide things in. It makes me feel as if I am reinventing myself all over again which is a good feeling. I have noticed there are two different groups when it comes to houses: those that move and those that do not move. Neither group is better than the other , just a different mind-set. I think I like to move because movement seems to be a better feeling than stillness. Stillness can be sobering.

We are in an economy now where there is a lot of stillness interjected without sharp periods of insane fluctuation in the financial markets. Many still believe we are on an upswing. I do not and have not as you will know from my older posts. How can we pull ourselves out of this recession with so much accumulated debt in our government and those of other countries in the world?

So I say “STORE NUTS!”

Just like the squirrels do in time for a long winter we all need to store nuts. Don’t suggest this, our government officials tell us as we ned people to spend to end the recession That seems like a Catch 22 to me. Tell everyone to spend their savings so our economy will improve but what about what happens if people do just that and our economy gets even worse? We all need nuts in our trees to survive what looks like a very long winter.

So I have an idea. What if we all stored nuts and then added a few more for people who didn’t have enough?Wouldn’t that be a good plan? The world is different now and will become more different and less safe. If we band together and help each other life would be better for most.

I don’t have a huge network of family where I live but I do have a large network of friends I am grateful for. I would like to have a wall in my house here of all my friends heights and their small drawings as it would keep me company at night.  Maybe I will begin that project soon.

Jobless in the bay area: Interviewing skills

Jobless in the bay area

Today I was lucky enough to be visited by an old friend who I hadn’t seen for 10 years or so.

She came because she wanted some interviewing advice and that is what I used to teach: how to sell yourself, how to work a room, how to get the job of your dreams. I stopped teaching because it was incredibly tiring and I had run out of hope to give people.

I found that today I really enjoyed doing my old job again and was helpful to my friend which is what it is all about to me. We spoke of her past employment and what she wanted now and then we spoke of how weird it is to be older and unemployed and having interviews with people 10 or more years younger than you.

I found this point the most interesting one as it is true for so many people today. You work hard, make a good living, advance up the ladder of corporate success and then lose your job. You have to begin a long search, learn to sell yourself all over again, and face the fear of never finding a job.

I find the younger generation hard to deal with as they seem to have no sense of humor. I often find myself out with a group of people younger than me and I notice they are really not having that much fun. Often they drink a lot, the men talk sports, and the women talk about schools for their kids. In this regard nothing has changed from my generation.

The one different thing is that my generation knows how to have fun! We had great music for fun. Anyone who grew up in the sixties and danced to the Beach Boys, kissed to the Beatles, and went to a Rolling Stones concert knows about fun. Fun is just good old sweet fun. Like spending an entire afternoon in a grassy field making out with your boyfriend.

My friend who is on a job hunt interviews with mostly young men and she isn’t having much luck. I think she isn’t having luck because it is really hard to establish rapport with a guy in his late thirties or earl forties. They don’t know the art of small talk the way we do. Small talk makes the big talk which comes after so much easier. These guys may also be threatened by a woman who is older and infinitely more qualified that they are. In any case they do not feel comfortable establishing a rapport and go right into hard core interview questions.

You know what I told her to do? Wear a pretty dress rather than the black suit she always wore to interviews.  Well, that’s not all I told her to do but I did recommend that she do that. I think wearing a dress at our age to a job interview shows you have a good sense of self and that you are comfortable in your own skin. I think the old days of dark suit interviews should be swept out the door.

My friend did tell me that once she was 40 she vowed to wear all the pink she wanted to the office. So now she needs to remember that. We all do. It’s so hard to face fear and act as if you have none. People get hired who seem confident and competent. Acting fearful is a bad thing in an interview. It’s not so much the pretty dress as the attitude that says I am comfortable with myself and I get along with people.

After she left my sweet dog disappeared for a couple of hours. I felt terrible fear and was crying most of the time. I convinced myself she would never return and that I would never find another dog like her. I would be forever sad about losing her. She had been carried off by an enormous eagle that had eaten her piece by piece.  Can you imagine anyone thinking like this? Crazy, right?

Fear is crazy. It paralyses us. It makes us unable to live our lives with freedom and joy. It is the worst possible emotion I feel yet is is always simmering under the edge of our lives. As the book says we have to “Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway”.

Abandonment in the new world: Is there hope?

People are either getting better or getting worse as I see it. I haven’t been able to measure which side is growing the fastest yet but I have no doubt we will find that out in very short order. The angry and bitter group is getting frightened and more angry while the optimistic group is growing more positive and more compassionate. It truly is the dawn of the new era where survival will depend on cooperation: cooperation is a  quality we Americans espouse but generally do not live by as we pride ourselves on our independence. We like the idea of every man for himself even though we now include women. There is a lot of rudeness going around and a whole lot of lack of respect. Families no longer have any loyalty to one another and grudges rise up out of nowhere and continue for years for no reason. No one knows how to  solve things between people. Everyone holds on to the past as if it were a scaffolding for their lives. Yesterday I had a man come to clean my carpets. He was a sweet old man from the Czech republic and I left to go out and do some errands. When I returned I let myself in rather quietly and found him staring intently at the family photo’s which line my front hall. He looked as if he were trying to understand a science experiment.I wanted to take him out  to dinner and explain to him that no one had total happiness . Families might look good in photo’s but many were filled with painful relationships. I wanted to adopt him for Thanksgiving dinner and invite many other abandoned souls. This is the way of the future. We need to create a new scaffolding based on love and reaching out to people not fighting with them.

Fourth of July

Fourth of July in Real Time

Vail is filled with older couples who appear to be happy. They are well dressed, not fat and drink a lot. The other night I went to a great concert of Mozart and I liked it so much the next night I went back to hear the Blues and really fell in love. It’s a good thing to develop interests at an advanced age. I read in the NY Times that the Tibetans have developed a gene over the past 3000 years which enables them to survive high altitude better than the Chinese. Apparently altitude cuts down on the fertility rate of a society. I wonder if this affects desire as well. I wonder this because all of these older couples in Vail look as if they are not really that happy. Maybe it’s the altitude. Retiring to Vail and spending all your time with the same people isn’t my idea of fun but I am hyperactive. The man next to me at the concert was very engaging but only when his wife left her seat. She seemed unhappy he was speaking with me. I find this behavior insulting to me. I don’t want someone’s husband and never will. Now I may lust after some of them but that is done in the privacy of my own head. Vail is basically a lustful place for reasons I can’t explain. Maybe it’s the sensual shape of the mountains or the smell of the larkspur but it is a lustful place. I bet Tibet would be as well. It would be better if the Chinese suffered from a lack of desire rather than the Tibetans. I would rather have more Tibetans on this earth. Paul Krugman stated today that you can’t describe our economy as a recession as we have GDP growth. He also stated he thought there would be unemployment of over 10 % by the end of the year. I don’t even put my seat belt on anymore. It seems all over our world things are recreating themselves and then destroying them all over the place. I think the market will drop to under 6000. When I said this a year ago people thought I was crazy and said so. I think our houses will lose even more value and the oil spill will never be stopped. I think there will be a nuclear incident somewhere in the world and some badly behaved country will make a big mess for all of the rest of us. But, you know what? There’s nothing we can do but enjoy the present moment wherever we are and whomever we are with. We can really try not to be irritated by bad behavior by others like the mean man who brought a chair and plunked it down right in front of me and my friend today at the parade blocking our view. We can stop and listen a lot. This is now my favorite new thing to do. Just stop and listen and try to make a list of all the different things I hear.

I dreamt I was taller

I dreamt I was taller…

Last night I dreamt I was taller and was so happy. In my dream I was standing on a doctor’s scale and had extended the height stick so I could show the doctor I had grown. I was surprised, myself, about this event. In my dream I felt more powerful and straighter and happy that I had grown taller. It made me feel as if I was going to be more successful in the world and that I looked infinitely younger.

I think I had the dream because I am finally emerging from a dark and enclosed cocoon of relative misery I have surrounded myself with over the past few months. While the world fell apart with environmental and economic disasters, I felt an extreme need to hide from everything and so I did. It seemed safer to remain at home, sequestered, and not venture out into the world much. I am interested to see that this period appears to be over.

This morning I applied for a job, planned three trips, and emailed people I have been out of touch with. Last night I went to an extraordinary place where I saw a collection of photographs that amazed me with their character and life. I was invited by a couple I have recently met and who are very interested in photography. They have collected an extraordinary group of photographs which captivate the observer. They are not in any ordinary museum, but rather in a space created especially for them by the couple.

I found this visit inspiring and am grateful to have been included in the group viewing these photographs. Mostly I am in awe of what life is offering me at the moment. From a vast and deserted wasteland I am now entering the excitement zone where anything is possible. I find myself meeting new and interesting people, planning trips to places I have always wanted to go to, and seeing opportunity rather than dismay.

Something has shifted in the world: it is as if all the old and bitter things have vanished from my vision and only the light is shining through. I still think life is not going to be what it was for most of us. I wouldn’t run out and invest in the market or buy a very fancy house, but I would take a look at whoever crossed my path and take the time to communicate with that person.

We are going to be presented with new opportunities now and these opportunities will be filled with wonder. I know our job is to accept these opportunities as gifts we must open and gratitude is the most welcoming and acceptable form of response.