Life Management

Aug
29

Wanderlust & Adventure

by Christine

When you look at photographs like this one, do you wonder what is at the end of the road? I do. As I become consumed with wanderlust, I find joy in exploring what is around the corner or at the end of a canopied country road.


On my travels, moments of whimsy cross my path or I am delighted to find a garden in an inspired location.

It is Monday and I wonder what adventures await me this week? What is around the corner? What awaits you?

Hugs, 
C

Aug
15

Summer Fun And New Ideas

by Christine

Summer is in full swing as my squash and zucchini plants are heavy with fruit and I am in full gardening gear as I work to out wit our resident groundhog in battle for the most tender parts of the lettuce. He is winning. My grandkids are visiting one at a time this summer instead of descending upon us in a pack. There is such joy in these intimate and joyful visits but I will be the first to concede that at times very tiring. On about the third day of their visit I am reminded why parenthood is for the young.

I am calling these visits, the Weekend of Yes. Each grandchild is told yes to anything thing that is safe and within the budget. They ask to go to Time Square so they can visit the M&M store and purchase a pound of M&Ms. Yes, let’s do it! You want cookie dough pancakes with whipped cream? Yes, coming right up!. The grandkids control the remote control and I gladly watch reruns of the University of Florida playing football against a Southern rival while my grandson excitedly narrates each play it is about to happen. They choose the play, the movie, the museum and the kinds of food we eat for this one special summer vacation as well as what time we go to bed. It is their Weekend of Yes. The WOF is a once in a lifetime treat; a very special treat because it happens only once during their childhood. 

I am saying yes to a few things that I want to share with you. Footsteps is starting a new series on Wednesday called Letters From Dixie. We are printing letters from a displaced Southerner to her sister as she attempts to navigate the ideas and people of her new Northern home. I hope you are amused by Dixie's observations as I am. Also, I have discovered a new podcast that has captured my attention. Malcolm Gladwell is on episode 09 of this podcast Revisionist History. Gladwell takes a second look at events that shaped actions and thoughts in the United States and questions there impact. While I don't agree with all his conclusions, I find it refreshing to give brain power to ideas instead of the minutiae of the current media banter. 

And finally how about the Olympics! Inspiring and dramatic are two words that come to mind as I watch this year's event in Rio. If you get a chance to check out Under Armour's new video piece on Michael Phelps, do it, it is worth your time. Their new tag line is Rule Yourself. I Will. I believe that slogan rivals the Nike, Just Do It!  

And finally, finally. The Pride of Place tour is gearing up again so be on the look out for the next installment.

Hugs,
C

 

 

May
11

Bad People Doing Bad Things

by Christine


{ James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano }

My earliest memories of my grandmother are warm and wonderful and include her daily willingness to read my brother and me stories. She read stories of princesses, fairies and peasant boys who battled evil to eventually win the day and live happily every after. As I grew I read the cautionary tales of the Brothers Grimm and learned that it was better to lose ones life in the battle against evil than to lose ones soul. The Turn of the Screw - a heart pounding horror story - haunted me for days as I grieved the physical loss of life to the evil forces that fought mightily to secure the innocent souls of children. I worked to understand the battle that raged between the ephemeral world I lived in and the eternal reality of God.  Stories have influenced and shaped how I view the world and I have often measured my behavior against the behavior of the fictional characters in the stories I have experienced. I can assure you, I will never go up the stairs in an abandoned house...with or without a really good looking guy. 

In 2002, a small independent film, In The Bedroom, was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Writing. I viewed the movie in the theater when it came out and internally cheered when, Matt Fowler, played by Tom Wilkinson took matters into his own hands after the legal system failed his family. Movies were one area of interest to both my mother and me so the conversation about In The Bedroom started out easily enough as Mom and I deconstructed and analyzed Todd Field's directorial decisions and the chemistry between Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek. But I was startled when our talk took an emotional turn after I announced I loved the film. My mom said she hated it. She went on to ardently declare that the movie's characters, Matt and Ruth Fowler, were decent people, the kind of people you want in the world and when that really bad thing happened to them, they did not rise above but sought revenge. Mom hated watching these good and kind people give into the evil impulses that led to a heinous act. Mom was heartbroken to see good people doing bad things. 

I have witnessed an evolution in popular storytelling that gives me pause. We have gone from stories about good people, doing heroic things to good people, doing bad things to bad people, doing bad things. Books, television and movies are filled with stories of bad people, doing bad things. Tony Soprano, Francis & Claire Underwood and Walter White are given life by very talented actors who add a dose of "humanity" to characters that do bad things, creating characters we "like" even as they cause harm to the innocent and not so innocent. When Walter White had his existential moment, he did not endeavor to leave the world better than he found it or even partake of the beauty of creation, he chose to be remembered. If he could not be remembered for doing good, he would be remembered for doing bad. Breaking Bad was the quintessential example of "it's all about me." But we did not turn away in heartbreak as Walter White traveled down the rabbit hole of evil. We justified and embraced his every move until the series end. 

A story is called a tragedy when a good person does a bad thing that leads to his or her downfall. The tragedy is the loss of the opportunity to rise above but what is it called when bad person does a bad thing? Shakespeare's first "tragedy", Titus Andronicus, is about bad people doing bad things. In the end it is a blood bath and everyone dies. (Sorry George RR Martin, you weren't the first.) It was a very popular play during its time but is not considered to be one of Shakespeare's respected playsSidebar: If you want a visual treat, check out Julie Taymor's, film Titus. The movie, based on Shakespeare's play, Titus Andronicus, is directed by Taymor and brings her strong sense of design to the film. I do caution that in this revenge story, everyone dies a bloody death.

My question is what does a steady diet of stories about bad people doing bad things do to the individual and ultimately to society? A genre of fiction has emerged call Apocalyptic Fiction. The concept is a global catastrophic event ends life, as we know it. But can't Apocalyptic Fiction pertain to the individual too? Is not the destruction of one life, the destruction of the world? Don't we need stories with heroes and heroines that cause us to strive to be better than we are? Do the stories you tell and listen to shape your view of the world? Love to hear what you think here or on Facebook.

Hugs,
C

 

 

May
09

To Be or To Do

by Christine


{ James Hunter Black Draftee }

A new internal dialogue has emerged as I become increasingly aware of the finite nature of time. Money, shoes, and books are like Doritos, when needed, we just make more. But time appears to be the only resource that is specific and determined and therefore our most valuable gift. Over the course of my life, my time has been dedicated to everything thing from going to school, to raising my children, to working and now, to writing. In a nutshell, I have spent my life doing. I have accomplished many personal and professional goals that have given my life purpose and pleasure. 

Increasingly though, I find that I linger in the moment to just "be". In the early morning as the sun comes up, I sit drinking a cup of tea as I watch the light creep down the side of the mountain, changing in color from a cool blue to a warm yellow. If I am not careful, Gary the Gardener will take up my time as I watch him race from one end of the fence to the other reveling in the warmer days of spring. A little voice whispers that I need to be doing something, anything but wasting my time contemplating the subtle changes of the morning light or laughing at the frolicking of a North American Grey Squirrel. 

The tension between doing and being came into greater conflict after the death of my mother. I felt the need to organize family photos and write a narrative on my parents and grandparents but my energy level was drained after years of caring for my mother. Now a sense of urgency and a tad bit of guilt sets in each time I remember the boxes of photos that still need to be scanned or the half completed family history. To make matters worse I have my own projects that have lain dormant longer that I would care to confess. I moved the half completed embroidery project to the TV room so that it would be easy to continue work while listening to the Yankees baseball but sadly to no avail. 

Currently at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the exhibit UNFINISHED THOUGHTS LEFT VISIBLE. The curators of the exhibit are addressing the question, "When is a work of art finished?" This exhibit is one of the best if not the best exhibit I've ever experienced in a museum. The work covers the "grand sweep" of time with pieces from every period and shows not only the technics behind the work created but also the thinking. I asked the question, "Why wasn't it finished?" In the case of Alice Neel's painting, James Hunter Black Draftee, the young man went off to the Viet Nam War and never returned to finish the painting. Did he not return from the war or did he just not return to sit for Alice? I personally love the look of what is considered an unfinished painting. 

Why did Rembrandt, da Vinci, Picasso, Turner, El Greco, and Degas leave work incomplete? Did Turner get bored with his subject? (Did it make him feel guilty every time he walked passed it?) Did Rembrandt receive another commission and simply put aside the incomplete painting, never to find time to once again resume work? Did Picasso have more ideas than could be completed in his lifetime? Or was it something else? Did one or all of these painters want to take some time to be instead of do? Instead of painting one morning, did they take time to watch the sunrise? On a sunny afternoon did they sit in the town square and drink a glass of wine and people watch? 

I am not in the midst some existential crisis, nor am I questioning the meaning or purpose of pursuing a life of accomplishment. I am asking if there is value in incorporating moments of being into a life of doing? What do you think?

Hugs,
C

PS: The exhibit is at the MET Breuer and runs through September 4, 2016. If you are anywhere near New York City, I encourage you to make time and go.

 

 

 

 

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Apr
15

New York City: The Flower District

by Christine


{Dutch Flower Line}

For years I imagined the NYC flower market to be a large warehouse type building with stalls for vendors; an imagining solely based on my experience with the farmer's market of my youth.  As I learned the New York City flower market is really more of a district and is located on West 28th between 6th and 7th Avenue. This past Wednesday I took a crowded, early morning train to West 28th and walked only a few step before I was immersed in flowers and people who make their living from flowers. I was a meanderer in the middle of wedding florists, restaurateurs and designers. 

In the spring, flowers and plants spill out on to the sidewalk and at times even on to the street. Trees laden with kumquats mingle with containers of box shrubs and rosemary. Trays and trays of lemongrass are stacked up against the wall and I had to resist the urge to tote home a flat of lemongrass. I kept asking how many smoothies' I would have to make to use up an entire flat and ultimately decided too many to justify following through on my impulse?  

Flowers of vibrant spring colors are stacked on shelves, clustered together in buckets or loose in boxes segregated by type. It is all reminiscent of an artist's new paintbox. The raw material is alluring and delightful but an artist or designer can blend and unite color and texture to create an exciting aesthetic. If you want to see an example of what I am talking about, take a moment to stop into Gramercy Tavern sometime to see the floral displays that will greet you. 

I knew many of the flowers on display, tulips, roses and even the peonies. I was introduced to peonies while working in China. These beautiful flowers don't grow in Florida; they can't stand the heat. The people of the Republic of China love these flowers so much they made them their national flower. 


{Peony}


{Pincushion}

Whole stores are dedicated to a single family of flowers. Orchids filled one entire wall of this shop coupled with assorted other hothouse varieties. 


{Orchids}

My favorite were these purple, pink and orange combo beauties and I even asked their name so I could share it with you but candidly, I got the spelling wrong. I spelled it so badly that Google can't even rescue me, so if you know please drop me a note. I adore them but failed to purchase a single one. They were ten dollars apiece and for some reason I felt the price was extreme and walked away. Next time I will take the plunge and bring a single flower home to enjoy.  

Interspersed between the flower shops were outlets for all the things you could think of to create floral arrangements or displays. Silk umbrellas, glass containers, cement planters and wood structures were hanged from the ceiling, stacked on shelves or leaned against the wall. 

I had to include this photo of all the ribbon. The emotion I felt walking upon the sight of so much ribbon organized neatly by color was one that Marty shared with me on occasion when he walks into a local hardware store. The meticulous organization and the potential to create are overwhelming. Neatness does count!!

While many of the stores have a minimum purchase requirement of twenty-five dollars, "retail" shoppers are welcome. Next time you are in the City, I encourage you to head over to the Flower District. I believe it will be worth your time and will lift your spirits to be surrounded by such beauty and energy.

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

 

 

 

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