Feb
29

Road Trip!

by Christine


{Lake Life}

Today is February 29 and a time for celebration. Happy Birthday to all the Leap Year babies! May you be blessed with health and happiness for another four years. 

Excitement is building as I plan for my next Footsteps blog series. I wrote last week about my obsession with the British TV show Midsomer Murders and the stories we tell through TV, the movies and books. My wondering led me to question why the Brits tell a story one-way and Americans tell the same story another. As I contemplated our differences, I asked, does place shape the stories we make? Do the idyllic landscapes of England produce storyteller with a more genteel sensibility? Does city living produce harder edged artist that produce darker and more ominous stories? In the midst of these ruminations, I came to the conclusion I should conduct my own "study". 

I am hitting the road to explore how pride of place shapes and influences the stories authors tell. If all goes well this will be a yearlong series. The first part of my tour takes me south and to be transparent, climate influenced my travel schedule more than a little bit. Washington, DC is my first stop where I explore the childhood neighborhoods of Majorie Kinnan Rawlings and Michael Chabon. I lived in Washington, DC for many years and I already know that Rawlings' DC and Michael Chabon's DC are very different places. I envision this series a little bit travel log and a great deal about some of America's most influential writers. 

If you are up for taking this trek with me and you haven't done so already, subscribe to this blog to receive updates. I will be posting "travel photos" to Instagram too. As Lao Tzu observed, The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step and I am taking that step today. 

Hugs,
C

Feb
26

The Tales We Tell

by Christine


{ John Nettles & Jason Hughes from Midsomer Murders}

Hi Ho, greetings from the land of springtime! The calendar may state that it is February but temperatures in New York are mild and most definitely confusing the squirrels and my daffodils. This last weekend Marty and I sat in "our chairs" overlooking the lake, a still frozen lake I will add, and enjoyed a glass of bubbly. We marveled at the warm temperatures and the appearance of the sun during a period of time that is normally reserved for grey skies and a good bit of complaining by New Yorkers of all stripes.  We are as confused by our good fortune as the squirrels. 

In addition to enjoying unseasonably warm temperature, I am indulging in a new guilty pleasure. I am viewing the British TV murder mystery Midsomer Murders. I think of MM as equivalent of Law and Order because of its longevity though it doesn't require you to view gruesome crime scenes or watch the over the top histrionics of the police. The lead character, DCI Tom Barnaby, deliberately and doggedly works a case until the killer is apprehended. If the viewer actually listens and watches the show, he or she can deduce who committed the crime and why. Midsomer is a true murder mystery in the vain of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. 

Midsomer has triggered a firestorm of thoughts as I've watched the exploits of the people of Midsomer. If the stories told about life in Midsomer are to be believed then the following is true about life in England. 

There is no poverty in England. As a matter of fact everyone has homes, cars and clothes that reflect an upper middle class or above lifestyle. Fox hunting is a weekend event and taking your horse on a stroll through the village is a common occurrence. 

Everyone gardens and has encyclopedic knowledge of gardening. Gardens are serious business and if you want to terrorize your neighbor simply cut off the heads of their flowers and leave them scattered on the lawn. 

Green space and flora and fauna are sacred in England and if you harm an orchid, cut down trees or attempt to modernized the landscape in anyway, you will be murdered. 

There is no modern architecture in England and if you attempt to bring a supermarket or highway into the area, you will be murdered.

The pub and the church are the only two public buildings in the village and if you attempt to change those places in anyway, you will be murdered. 

Sexual indiscretion is the plague of the upper class and if you engage in such behavior, you will be murdered. 

A gun is not the favorite murder weapon in Midsomer. Bonking someone on the head with a rock, tree limb, camera obscura crank or candlestick is more to their liking. A victim is occasionally shot but the gun of choice in those situations is a hunting rifle. The lack of firearms does not mean you won't be murdered if you engage in an activity that conflicts with the idyllic lifestyle of Midsomer. 

One murder invariably leads to a second or third killing but in the end, the killer is apprehended by well-adjusted law enforcement professionals and fairly punished by a functioning court. 

Midsomer Murders has led me to question the stories we tell ourselves. Are the tales we broadcast on TV, screen in movie theaters and stock on the shelves in bookstores reflective of who we are? Are the yarns we spin told as cautionary tales in the vain of the Brothers Grimm or are we sitting around our media like we once circled around a fire to hear and see modern day ghost stories? Why do we tell these stories and do they accurately reflect who we are? What do you think? Are these stories that are repeated over and over a true representation of who you are? Of who we are?

Hugs,
C

 

 

 

 

 

Jan
27

Check Out Life Lately

by Christine


{Clara Artschwager & Brooke Braun}

I can't believe it is January 28 already. There is something called Kepler's Second Law that describes the way an object's speed varies along its orbit. Time has definitely moved into a higher gear along my life's orbit. I do confess January has been a blast so maybe Einstein's Theory of Relativity is a more apt description. Temperatures have been mild and without snow until this past weekend when Jonas the Blizzard 2016 hit New York City. Marty and I had a bit of an adventure walking the streets of the City as the snow silently fell. I do mean literally walking the streets.

A State of Emergency was declared and all cars were banned from the roadways. People partied in Time Square while we on the Upper Westside went in search of Prosecco for mimosas.  Couples strolled hand-in-hand down the middle of Broadway as though it were a French promenade.  We could not see the full moon as the clouds covered the night sky but streetlights and the neon from scattered storefronts illuminated the night. A truly magical weekend and a reminder joy can even reside in a blizzard. 

I want to tell you about a "new" podcast I've been enjoying. The title is Life Lately: a podcast about life, and living true to you. The two women hosting the series are friends and colleagues of mine. They are also terrific human beings. Clara, as some of you may remember, was a HUGE help in getting the Footsteps blog up and running. She understands the whole technical world of the Internet/Social Media and was able to walk me through the process. She is also a guru when it comes to crafting a personal or professional brand. I met Brooke when I produced an annual event for her Association. She was a live event client who understood the importance of bringing people together for a common purpose and she could get things done with a bit of flare and a lot of quality. These two are smart, young women who have something to say. 

While they are younger than me, many of the issues Clara & Brooke are facing at this point in their lives are similar to mine. Making and Keeping Meaningful Friendships, Making a Home Wherever You Are and Caring for Your Body, Mind & Life are a few of their topics that resonated with me. The discussion on Making a Home went from defining the term home (it is more than having matching lamps) to when is the right time to buy the forever home. (I don't believe there is such a thing as a forever home; I believe there are homes for seasons of our lives.) To dial back and restate goals and needs can be stressful but it can also be a joyous opportunity to align your values as you and your family evolve. 

If you are looking for someone to keep you company as you prepare dinner or exercise, check out Life Lately. And if you get a chance, let me know what you think.

Hugs,
C

 

 

Jan
26

A Widow's Guide

by Christine


{Kristin with Deepak Chopra}

This past summer I wrote about my friend Kristin Meekhof and her efforts on behalf of widows worldwide. Kristin lost her husband to adrenal cancer in only seven weeks after the initial diagnosis. She has drawn upon her own experiences to write an inspiring book that helps guide grieving widows through the challenges of losing a life partner. A Widow's Guide is now on the shelf and is receiving positive reviews from the professionals as well as lay people. I encourage you to pick-up a copy of this book if you know someone who has experienced this kind of loss or if you are walking this journey. 

Hugs, 
C

Jan
20

Free The Angel!

by Christine

Do you believe in angels? If I were to put that question to Marty, he would ask me to define the word angel. We would spend at least an hour hammering out vocabulary before getting to the discussion of belief. I will attempt to clarify the word before moving forward with our conversation. When Matthew, my son, had his cycling accident last year, my daughter visualized an angel embracing and swaddling Matthew in the moments before the car struck him. Kathryn's angel saved her brother's life and protected him from permanent injury. I, too, have visions of angels caring for Matthew during that critical time. There were three angels at his side, an off-duty EMT, an off-duty State Trooper and a Methodist minister. These angels stopped and gave of their time and expertise to help another on a deserted road in Georgia. Regardless of how they are manifested, I believe in angels. 

Growing up I learned some of what I believe about the dichotomy of man from cartoons. Cartoons in the late 1950s and early 1960s were five-to-seven minute morality plays that highlighted the price one pays for being unkind, greedy or arrogant. The image of an animated angel and devil fighting for control of Donald Duck's soul is imprinted on my minds eye. Each side cajoled, coaxed and lobbied Donald to take action but ultimately, it was his choice as to the kind of duck he was going to be. Donald Duck eventually comes around and embraces his inner angel but the devil didn't make it easy for him to choose the honorable path. 

In 2016 I'm campaigning to Free The Angels. I believe to my core that human beings want to be virtuous, honorable, benevolent, commendable and worthy. Sadly, at times we do not live up to our aspirations. I am suggesting that whenever possible we work to do or say something kind to and for another. I am encouraging grand gestures and small gestures of kindness and virtue. Is it really necessary to respond to uncharitable and disagreeable comments uttered by a disgruntled friend or stranger? Wouldn't your time be better spent writing a note of encouragement to a family member or friend? Blimey, wouldn't your time be better spent cleaning the kitchen or completing a work project than becoming embroiled in all that negativity? At least when you finish cleaning the kitchen or complete your work project, you can enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. 

Do you believe in Angels? Where have you seen Angels in action? Do you believe that humans are capable of doing good? Do you believe we can Free The Angels? I would love to hear what you think!

 

 

Jan
18

Merry New Year!!

by Christine

Life is good and yet, it is a bit off schedule. We had our first snow of the season at the Lake this morning, my Christmas tree was up well into the New Year and this is my first blog post of the 2016. I can't explain the lack of snow but the Christmas tree and blog post are my doing. Our Christmas tree was beautiful and smelled delicious and I couldn't bring myself to take it down. The blog has taken a back seat to other activities though I have had multiple conversations with you in my mind as I went about my day. 

If you will bear with me for a moment I am going to take this opportunity to eulogize 2015. You see due to my work in live events and strategic marketing, I have developed the habit of "branding" each year. I know that may seem a bit odd to some but it works for me. The word for 2015 was Joy. After multiple years of family health struggles, I declared that I would actively seek out joy. I am here to declare that I found it. Joy blossomed in me as I sat by the Lake and felt the sun on my face and marveled at the lettuce growing in my garden. Joy over took me as I talked to my grandchildren on the phone, some of whom the only words I understood was when they signed off saying I love you. Moments of joy were to be found everywhere but most of all it was found in the ordinary activities of life. 2015 was a very good year and will remain in my heart for months to come. 

Now you may be wondering if I have chosen a word for 2016. I have and the word is peace. That may seem to be an odd word to champion in an election year. Politicians and the Media in an effort to get our vote or get our attention have embarked on a campaign of listing all the problems real and imagined with our neighbors, our country and the world. Shrill and abusive conversations are being held on television and on-line in an effort to prove those involved have completely forgotten basic manners. Peace, I am sad to say, appears to be friendless.  

I suspect that peace like joy doesn't rely on the actions of another. Peace, if you look, can be found in your own heart and mind. The world does not have to be at peace for you or me to have peace in our life. We can chose to embrace peace regardless of the agitation another attempts to create. I am going to take 2016 to explore creating peace in the world. I do hope peace of mind is a choice because that is my word for 2016. 

I will continue to explore community as well as other less serious subject. An example of something less serious? I have discovered lattes. Good ones not the kind you find at the coffee chains but ones made lovingly by passionate experts. I hope you continue to check back to see what fun stuff is on the horizon. 

Hugs, 
C

 

 

 

Nov
16

How To Build Community

by Christine

In the coming weeks I am going to discuss the how-tos of building community that will enhance your life and the lives of others. Why? Because I believe as the Boomers retire, the children of the Gen Xers begin to graduate from high schools and the Millennials finally look up from their computers, all will be asking, "What next?". Everyone will want to know how to make connections and lead meaningful and purposeful lives. 

Community is a unified group of people who acknowledge a joint ownership and participation in a declared society. Ownership and participation means showing up and doing the work necessary to keep the community functioning and thriving. How do you create that? A group or individual needs a vision for the community. Okay, those are basic definition but what is the real world example. Lets take something small and relatively easy.

Say you want to be part of a book club. You could search out one on the web or check out your local library to learn of any existing book clubs in your area. But you have a vision and that vision includes creating a new book club in your neighborhood. That could be a goal in and of itself but you might want to flesh out your vision a bit more. Does you vision for the book club mean getting together once a month to drink a glass of wine, eat a few munchies while discussing latest popular culture release?  Or do you want to read serious works of fiction and non-fiction and have monthly in depth discussions with adroit enthusiast? 

To be successful, you must be clear about what you are trying to accomplish and why. If the book club is a tool to create opportunities for companionship then what you read is not the driving force behind the meetings. On the other hand if it is all about "the book" then it is important for you to be clear when sharing your vision with others. The struggle comes in forming community when the majority of the members don't have a common vision. To succeed it is necessary for everyone to row the boat in the same direction.

In a previous post I mentioned our Community Lake Preservation group and the success we have had in caring for and maintaining our lake. It is my belief that the success behind this group lies in the fact that everyone had a common vision. Anytime anyone went off course, they were gently steered back to our common vision of caring for the lake. Whether you are establishing a book club, a Girl Scout troop, a Moms of Multiples group, a neighborhood association or a neighborhood softball team, it is critical to have a clear vision. 

As a first step of creating community, I encourage you to articulate your vision giving voice to the "why" behind your vision. 

Hugs,
C

 

Nov
13

Squirrels As Friends

by Christine


Gary the Gardener's Body Double

Having a squirrel for a friend is a lot like having a child. Squirrels, like children, are noisy, messy, and inclined to end up in places they shouldn't. Gary the Gardener is one such squirrel.  As the temperature continues to drop here on the mountain, I look longingly over my back patio, remembering one warm August afternoon when Gary was trespassing once again. With my head bowed, I was deep in though about sentence structure and whether to use the Oxford comma or not, when I felt the tiny toenails of Gary run across the top of my feet. As if that wasn't startling enough, a playmate of his was in pursuit playing what I thought to be a rigorous game of chase and he, too, ran across my feet. 

Gary and his friend's actions were much like the ones of my children when they were little. When playing chase, my son would tag his sister "it" and then declare me "base" as he barreled toward me. My daughter would scream no fair and race toward him and me in an effort to tag her older brother. Gary had declared me base and falsely believed my presence would stop his playmate from pursuing him. He was wrong and I had two squirrels scamper over my feet.

I am beyond the "ew" factor when it comes to wildlife touching me because this very same thing has happened once before in my life. When my children were young we were living in Florida and remodeling a historic home. It was also during this time I felt the need to monitor my weight in meticulous detail so I would get out of bed each morning and step on the scales at the foot of my bed. One particular morning the room was dark and as I stepped on the scale I felt something run across the top of my feet. I froze and then jumped on the end of my bed waking my cocker spaniel, Simon. Well, actually, my scream woke the dog and my children.  

The ensuing scene rivaled the best French farce or one of the early Marx Brother's movies with running, slamming doors and yelling. As the dog chased the squirrel, I pursued the dog, my son ran after me and my daughter trailed after my son yelling don't hurt it. After completing two laps around the house, we opened the front to release the poor, frightened squirrel tackling the dog before he could continue the chase outside. The whole episode was funny though I believe it to be funnier now then when it actually occurred. 

Gary the Gardener makes life on the mountain fun as his behavior triggers good memories of life with my children when they were young. I do wonder though if he tells his friends and family stories about me?

Hugs,
C

 

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