Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Happy

It's just a few days before Christmas.  Where did the year go? 

Last year this time, I felt like 2010 ran me over, backed up, and did it again.  2010 was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad year. I had great hopes for 2011 - it was going to be a better year. It had to be. It surely couldn't get much worse.

And better 2011 was.  It started out a little shaky, but once it got some ground under its feet, it was off and running and barely looked back.  It wasn't perfect.  But it didn't have as much to apologize for, either. Except the Kardashian wedding, but that's another story. And as the year runs its final cool-down lap, it leaves me with a sense that, yes, 2012 will be an awesome year.  Don't ask me how I know these things. I just do. And even if the world ends on December 21, 2012, we can go out like rock stars, knowing that we had at least one good year behind us. 

So, even though it's just over a week away, I raise my imaginary glass and toast the end of one year and the beginning of another, and the sense that we may find ourselves in a place of happiness and contentment.

And for those celebrating the holidays now, I wish you a very Merry Happy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Such Random Things (Inspirations)

As I write this, I'm listening to Brooke Fraser's "Flags," a gorgeous song about the suffering we all experience but how there is still hope in this world. As I become more acquainted with her music and often Christian-themed song writing, there is a sense of peace. Now, I'm not one to listen to overtly religious music. I just can't. I'm sorry.  But I'm a sucker for a tender song about hope and redemption, and this song brings to mind several friends I know who are "going through things" at the moment - maybe even you - and that we all can serve as that listening ear and provide a bit of inspiration.

So, with that - and with the celebration of Thanksgiving still lingering - I thought I would share some inspiring stories:
  • Just over a year ago, a very good friend of mine was in a horrible accident. It wasn't certain this person would survive, and if so, it wasn't certain what quality of life she would have.  It's been a long, painful road over the last year for her and her family...and all of her friends who continued to pray for her.  I saw her just a few weeks ago and she has made tremendous progress.  I don't think it necessary to go into details, but let me tell you - to be able to be with my friend and talk like old times, to witness her strength and ever-present optimism and faith...she amazes me so much. Say what you want, but I truly believe Someone was listening to those prayers.
  • This past weekend, my wonderful grandparents celebrated 73 years of marriage.  73. I struggle to think what 20 or 30 years might look like, but 73?  They have experienced war, death, caring for elders, illnesses, and so much more - things that would tear any couple today apart - and there is still so much love there.  I think about how many people I know who have divorced or are in unhappy marriages and how easily people give up.  It ain't easy, and my grandparents would be the first to tell you so. But it is a partnership, and it takes compromise from time to time.  I continue to learn so much from them.
  • A couple I know recently gave birth to a beautiful baby...who was born with Downs Syndrome. It's one of those genetic disorders that, unfortunately, is not discussed much and is often at the center of gross misunderstanding. Public insensitivity and ignorance abound. Still, from day one, my friend and his wife fell in love with this bundle of joy and the love grows stronger every day. And from their corner of the world, they are trying to educate people a little more about this disorder. Their story is such an inspiration to me.
  • A few weeks ago was the famed New York Marathon. Being as how I haven't run any sort of distance since my cross country days about 17 years ago, I am always impressed by people who train and run marathons, half-marathons, Tough Mudders and such. I always feel a little shall we say...fat and lazy? These races are no joke, and neither is training, and when a friend of mine trained and ran the marathon for the first time - mind you, a person I did not know was physically fit in any way - I was inspired.  No, I'm not preparing for a marathon. But it got me thinking that nothing is worth anything without a little pain and hard work. And although I push myself everyday to do the most I can do, do I really? Is it enough? It's time to step up.
These are just some of the stories from recent weeks that serve as inspiration to me.

What inspires you?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Only Half the Journey...

I recently returned from a vacation to Bavaria, Germany. It was lovely, as one would expect, full of gorgeous mountains, centuries-old churches, small alpine villages, tourist destinations and all the bratwurst and beer your tummy could handle. It was an experience that I will always treasure.

However, the one image that keeps recurring in my memory is not one of the many wonderful sights we saw on land, but one seen from the sky.

Call me crazy (you wouldn't be the first) but - despite the growing inconvenience, cost and total lack of comfort these days - I love to fly. I always try to get a window seat and follow along like a child tracing a map - the winding roads and waterways; the thin, white edges of the sea's coast like a torn sheet of paper; the discernible landmarks; the mountains capped with snow; the pillars of Earth rising out of the desert, and so on. It's like taking a second trip.

Coming home from Germany, we went north - probably to avoid some storms that were pressing through France. Up across Belgium, across the whipping winds of the North Sea, over England's rugged coast. We flew over the Irish Sea, and then across Ireland above the legendary stone walls, so neatly arranged - gleaming the Emerald Isle of our imaginations. Hours over the open Atlantic, and then suddenly - icebergs, anchored so near the coast of Newfoundland and tiny houses and their weathered inhabitants.


I never saw icebergs before. I didn't even know they could drift so far south (or were we that far north?) From 30,000 feet, it was difficult to tell at first what the white spots were below us. Caps of waves? Bits of clouds that were popping into view? Boats? Then they became larger. There was even one so large I think it must have been a glacier (or not) with the bluest core I have ever seen. To think how cold it must be there, how the hearty the local people must be (I could not imagine winter there), and how blessed they are to have such incredible natural surroundings. To be so connected to the sea.

[I didn't take photos, but look at these from Downhome Magazine.


They serve as my reminder that the earth-bound destination is only half of the journey - there is so much of the world out there. And even if it is viewed from afar, enjoy. And I hope someday to take my earth-bound destination to Newfoundland and see those icebergs close-up.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Has it been 20 years already?

"No sir, I don't like it."

That's a quote from one of my favorite '90s cartoons "Ren and Stimpy." (More about that in a minute.)

That's also how I feel about a sudden rash of 20th anniversaries that are cropping up. Not so much the anniversaries themselves - who doesn't love to celebrate important milestones? - but the fact that I've been around long enough to remember when the events were current...and that I was old enough even then to enjoy them. I know, I know: anyone older than, say, 30 is in this boat with me. But seriously. When did we get that old? Why do I find myself telling the "when I was your age" stories? Why do I find myself saying "oh {shoot} ! It can't be 20 years already? Wait, how old am I now? oh man."

20 years ago, Little Chrissy was in 8th grade (incidentally, a 20th class reunion was just scheduled), watching the world break open and events unfold that would define a decade and a generation, and influenced the quirky girl you know today. And now we're remembering, 20 years later:

  • Ren & Stimpy: This show on Nickelodeon was cutting edge, and I'm convinced it wasn't designed at all for children but, more likely, stoned college students. But I enjoyed it anyway, as did my best friend, and together we would burst out at random times with the "Muddy the Mudskipper" song or the fake commercial "Log" as a parody to the real "Slinky" commercials. And who could forget "Happy, happy, Joy, joy"? Go ahead - judge me. You know you love it, too.

  • Nevermind: The quintessential album of the '90s. You couldn't escape the urgency of "Smells like Teen Spirit" or the dark, flannel-wearing introspection that surrounded it. My older sister had the CD and played it a lot, and so I listened, a lot. Being the confused kid that I was during a poignantly dark period of my life, the angst of every song appealed to me. It didn't matter that my adolescent mind couldn't fully comprehend the context of the lyrics, nor that the majority of kids in my class were listening to R&B and had no idea "alternative" music existed. I didn't follow the trendy grunge look, nor did I understand at the time how important this album was to the sea-change that would befall rock music. It's only within recent years that I came to appreciate the poetry of the lyrics and genius behind the composition. Kurt, you are still missed.

  • Pearl Jam and Ten: Yes, the grunge scene was bursting open. As a kid of the sparkly '80s and more in-tune with sparkly new wave than the underground punk scene, grunge was...well, kinda grungy. I remember seeing the video for "Alive" and thinking, that's kind of a cool song. Who would have thunk that they would last 20 years? At the time, I thought they were trying to be a Nirvana knock-off. Boy, was I wrong. Eddie Vedder was like the modern-day storyteller (much like Bob Dylan or Billy Joel, if you will) that spoke to a generation. How many times do we think of "Jeremy" whenever there is a tragic school shooting? Unfortunately, too many.

  • Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion I and II: Kids, I know it's hard to imagine that Axl Rose used to be cool...but 20 years ago, he was. And so was his band. And this double album made them maybe just a little more acceptable by pop radio - with the likes of "November Rain", one of the all-time top rock ballads. Who would have thought the crazy, alcohol-soaked "hair" band could create something so significant? Polar opposite of Nirvana? Sure. But no less important.

    There are many, many other 20th pop-culture anniversaries being celebrated - the release of Thelma and Louise (I was too young to appreciate), Wiggles (I was too old to care), the launch of Lollapalooza (I'm still uber-jealous of my sister who attended), and some of the other events noted in this timeline. Still, as Tears for Fears once said, I find it kind of funny and I find it kind of sad to look back, think about our culture and our world 20 years ago, how far we've come and how far we still need to go. In 20 years, what culturally significant events will we celebrate? That Snookie was able to stay out of jail, or that anyone without talent could become an overnight star? Oh...Nevermind.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Rockin' in the Free World

    Two years ago, I blogged about one of the best radio stations I've ever had the privilege to experience: WRXP 101.9. I've been a faithful listener ever since.

    But for how much longer?

    News surfaced recently about the station's acquisition by Merlin Media from Ennis Communications. Now rumors are spreading like wildfire that the station's rock format will flip to either talk/news radio, or, less likely, a country music station.

    For me and thousands of other listeners in the NYC area, this is tragic news. When I heard this news, I felt like Merlin killed a piece of my soul and will not be satisfied until my entire soul is dead. Maybe this seems like I'm over-reacting, but consider this:

    1) KROCK and WDRE/WLIR changed owners/formats a few years ago, as did WHTG in New Jersey. There is WDHA, a classic rock station, also based in New Jersey - but without WRXP, fans of modern rock, alternative and new music will not have a place to call home. Once again, we will be disenfranchised. Once again, we will be told that we do not count. Once again, these station owners will be absolutely wrong.

    2) People like to say that New York is not a rock-and-roll town. I can't think of a place that's more rock-and-roll. It's not just about the beat. It's not just about the music. It's the attitude. It's freedom at its rawest, in the shadow of the very symbols of American freedom. Trying to separate NYC from its rock roots is impossible. And it will not roll over and play dead for talk radio.

    3) This article gives a quote describing Merlin Media's CEO, Randy Michaels, as "...a guy who loves radio. He adores it." Really? Which part? The money? Or transmitting absolutely useless crap that stirs no emotion to a sea of people who may only listen as a sleeping aid. Very sad.

    I don't want my musings to come across like a kid whose favorite toy is being taken away. No. As a college-educated professional in my early 30s, I am representative of the very demographic that stations should be trying to reach, rather than kicking them in the stomach. One of the key things a potential Merlin Media employee must do, according to their own site) is "preserve and enhance the good will." Really? It would seem that Merlin - a company that's just a few weeks old - is tromping all over "good will." Way to build a legion of loyal listeners. Clearly, if Merlin flips formats, suspicions that they are only interested in money will be confirmed.

    As the lowly peon on the bottom of the food chain, perhaps my words don't matter. Perhaps they will fall on deaf ears - tone deaf ears - and they will have no impact whatsoever. But perhaps a sea of words will create a flood of change and stop this format flip before it's too late.

    I want to keep rockin' in the free world. Do you, New York?

    Join on Facebook: Save Rock 101.9
    Contact: Merlin Media

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Let Love Rule 2011

    Just a few days ago, New York became the sixth, and largest, U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. I join in the millions of supporters when I say: "Way to go, New York!" This is exciting news and gives hope to many, many others who still do not have that freedom.

    Just across the river, in my little state of New Jersey, our governor still say "No way." Normally, I would appreciate someone sticking to their guns, not giving up on their convictions or giving in to social pressures. But...this is different. This is about human rights, civil rights, and the freedoms that we should be able to celebrate in this awesome country of ours.

    There was an editorial in my local paper yesterday briefly explaining who is permitted to marry in NJ and who cannot. Can you believe that first cousins can marry in NJ, as well as children under 18 years of age (with parental consent)? What is this - backwoods U.S.A.? Poor Arkansas is always the punchline of those jokes about cousins marrying, but guess what? It's prohibited in Arkansas! And still, gay couples cannot marry.

    I know that not everyone shares my viewpoint or supports gay marriage. I appreciate that they have their own perspective. In fact, in a poll on, public opinions were split 60% in favor, 40% opposed to legalization of gay marriage. But I cannot, for the life of me, understand how one can justify denying another human being liberties that they themselves are granted. And the arguments don't hold water. Let's try to break it down.

    - Gay marriage defies the sanctity of marriage. What about heterosexual couples that cheat or divorce on a whim? Is that ok because they're straight? What about Arnold, John, Anthony and the countless others who have veered off the Golden Path? The public is outraged for about 5 minutes and then forget about it...maybe even forgive, especially if said-cheater makes a lame attempt at redemption via "rehab" or tries to rebuild via a talk show.

    - Gay marriage goes against the Bible and God's law. Maybe. But after 12 years of Catholic school and religion classes, I don't recall reading anything of the sort in the Bible (although, as you can imagine, we received the proverbial "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" lectures). And unless those who use this as an argument personally visited God at home and discussed this topic at length over tea, I highly doubt anyone can say with any certainty this is how it should be. And if that's not enough for you, think about the Golden Rule. Now think about the Ten Commandments. Now, repeat the line in either one that states that gay marriage is wrong. Go on, I'll wait.

    I thought so.

    - The purpose of marriage is procreation. Is that all? Man, am I in trouble. So are the countless others who either don't have children or can't have children. And all this time I thought I married my husband because we loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Boy, was I a dummy. What about those people who have children within the sanctity of marriage who neglect or abuse their children, or worse? Are you not outraged by that more so than if a gay couple married?

    - Marriage is a sign of commitment and gay couples cannot commit. Really? I know gay couples that have been together longer than most straight couples. Also, do you realize that the divorce rate in the U.S. is 50%? That's a big number. Many people I love dearly are divorced, and I realize that there are a multitude of reasons for it. To assume that heterosexual couples are immune to these issues, or that gay couples are subject to them, is just plain absurd.

    My point is not to offend. My point to make people think. Isn't it time that we move along with the times and realize that a change has to come?

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Love Thy Self

    Ok, let's just get the obvious out of the way. Yes, it's been two months since my last post. No, I have not been wandering Bora Bora, been locked in a dungeon or anything of the sort. Just plain old busy.

    Which is kinda a good segue into my post. Why do I feel the need to explain to my few wonderful readers out there why I haven't posted recently? Furthermore, how do I know it's just "a few" of you out there? Well...yeah, that's a little easier to quantify, but my point is...there's always that evil, little monkey in the corner of my brain that screams about living up to expectations...and feeling guilty about it when I don't.

    Sure, most of the time, these are self-imposed expectations - things that should make me feel more confident about life, but more often than not, they make me feel worse. Way worse. To the point it changes-my-whole-disposition-kind of worse. I should live in a better home, have a better job, wear better clothes, weigh less, have perfect hair, be the confident, perky, radiant woman I'm meant to be. But then I realize "should" is not the same as "is" and that's when the trouble starts. There is a fear of admitting "failure". Even now, there is a sense "I should not post this", "what will they think?", "what if this sounds lame and my point isn't clear?" But that's also part of the shame and feeds into the perpetual cycle.

    Which is why, when I saw this article about self compassion, I felt for once that I'm not alone in my experience. And reiterating that "the secret to success is the ability to fail." Not to say that failure is the goal, just - that we all fail from time to time, no one is perfect, and we have to be gentle with ourselves. Easier said than done. Bad habits are hard to break. But it gives me hope - and I'm posting this so that maybe I can pass along that hope to someone else.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Plastic Not-So Fantastic

    Some questions are asked so frequently that they kind of become a joke. A hackneyed, overplayed, not-so-funny-anymore kind of joke.

    Think "Boxers or briefs?"

    Or "Paper or plastic?"

    In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to not use plastic bags when I go grocery shopping. I have a few reusable bags (which, for the record, always amaze me with how much they can hold) and if I don't have enough of my own bags, I prefer paper bags, which I can use for my paper recycling. No fuss, no muss - no piles of of flimsy plastic bags that always leave me wondering whether they really will be recycled properly or just sit in a landfill somewhere. {Here's a site that is semi-helpful when it comes to learning more about plastic bag recycling}

    But...well, is it me, or does it seem like grocery stores are really pushing people to use plastic bags?

    If I ask for paper, I am asked in return "Paper inside of plastic?" No. Just paper. Pa-per.

    If I'm bagging, and the check-out person decides to help bag the last few items, what does he or she automatically grab - even though not a single plastic bag has touched my hands? That's right. Plastic.

    Last week, knowing I would need a few paper bags in addition to my own bags, I watched in horror as the check-out person actually removed a stack of paper bags, put them in hiding under the counter and presented a fresh pack of plastic bags. I felt a barely-audible whimper slip out as I stood by, almost helpless as my choice was taken away. I had to wonder if this was a global initiative by the store - is it cheaper for the store to offer plastic instead of paper?

    I got my paper bags in the end, but wonder how many people would just go with the flow and not notice or care what bags are used, just like I used to do. Who knows. But I came across this article that breaks down the issue of paper vs. plastic.

    Maybe one day, there won't even be a question of "Paper or plastic?"

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    On the Move

    For the last few months, the predominant theme in my life has been moving.

    First, my family helped move my grandparents from their home of 18 years to a place closer to the rest of the family. It was a big undertaking to say the least. We sorted, packed, tossed, sold, saved several decades worth of memories. Even the smallest item would hold some sort of sentiment. "I remember when your grandfather gave me this [item] when we first moved to [city] back in [year]." or some such phrasing. The mere act of holding some of the things churned memories that I had long forgotten and made me a little sad to watch things change. And it wasn't even my home.

    Now, while not nearly as traumatic as moving from a beloved home, I face another move - at work. Our office is moving just a few miles up the road - not far at all, hardly enough to make a significant dent in my commute - but enough to be completely foreign after coming to work nearly every day for 8+ years to the same building. The process of sorting, packing, tossing, selling and saving things is in full swing. As a coworker said to me, "I never thought I would feel sad to see everything boxed up."

    It will be a change for sure, on several levels. Still, as I sort through things I filed away years ago, I am reminded of the young adult I was when I started, the projects I worked on then and how I've grown professionally since. The "war stories," the memories of coworkers who have moved on, the clients who have changed. I will miss the familiar faces of others in the building, the town center at lunchtime on a warm sunny day, the gorgeous view from my office window. I realize how easy it is to get lost in the day-to-day, the frustrations, deadlines, and such, and how very easy it is to take for granted the little things that build memories. And how comfortable we become when in one spot for too long.

    So, just like any change, it will take some time to get used to. I will need to start a new routine and adjust a little, but it's time to build some new memories and begin new stories. Until the next chapter of change is ready to unfold.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Such Random Things (Strange Brew Edition)

    • Wikipedia is 10 years old already. That "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" gained momentum over the years, and although I'm not sure it has earned respect as a legitimate resource, most people online have probably referred to it at least once over the last decade. And sometimes found reason to scratch our heads or laugh in the process.

    • The Book of Mormon - coming to a Broadway theatre near you! From the creators of "South Park",'s probably exactly what you expect. Not sure how folks would feel if it was called "The Bible" or "The Qur'an." On second thought, I know exactly how folks would feel.

    • What lavishness will Kate and Wills plan for their wedding? I'm sure it will be lovely, but maybe they should avoid all that stress and just get hitched in Dunkin' Donuts like this couple. I wonder if the bride had wedding jitters {ba da bum}.

    • Romania is proposing a tax on witches, astrologers, and fortunetellers.And the response of those to be taxed? Why, casting spells, of course. Naturally. I wonder what would have happened if that tactic had been used in Boston Harbor in 1773...

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Stealing Youth

    First, I want to start by wishing you all a happy new year! I have a good feeling about this year. I don't know what it is, but even at the very stroke of midnight, as 2010 vanished into 2011, I felt the heaviness lift. Let's enjoy this moment of hope while we can.

    Second: it's time again to get down to business...and a new post, eh?

    OK. So...recently, I was shopping in an "upscale" department store for a gift for a young child. A 4-year-old girl to be exact. Now, I'm not a mother yet, but I know a few children and still have a sense for what kids wear. Or do I?

    Sure, there were the quintessential long-sleeve shirt with a kitty and rainbow on it, footy pajamas, ruffled sweaters. But there were also colorful tu-tus seemingly from the Lady Gaga children's fashion line; sequenced pants for that aspiring Solid Gold dancer in the family; a faux black leather jacket complete with a hoodie for the littlest biker chick; and the military-inspired jacket and newsboy cap that would do either Che Guevara or any coffee-house regular proud.

    I understand that parents want their kids to look cool...maybe even to reflect the parents' own styles. But, when I saw those clothes, it made me realize that we keep pushing our children to be little adults - not children. And it seems to me that it's not just fashion, but also other products. A few months ago, I went to a restaurant to see a child around 7 years old playing with an iPad like a toy. An iPad. Really? Very few adults I know have one, let alone a child using it as a plaything. Music, TV, movies, the list goes on.

    I guess I shouldn't be so judgmental. I mean, when I become a parent, maybe I will be sucked right along with these trends all in the name of making my child happy. Then again, I can blame all of these external sources for stealing the youth from our children, but isn't it the responsibility of the parent to guide and make the decisions for a child until he or she is old enough to make his/her own decisions?

    What do you think? If you're a parent, what is your opinion on what is being offered for kids today?