Thursday, 31 January 2013

Where's my infinity pool?

My mind works in weird ways, especially when I'm way overtired from three nights of not sleeping well (can someone explain to me why the very same dog who sleeps curled in a tiny ball in the living room finds it necessary to stretch out and take up as much space as possible if I let her sleep in our bed?  I mean, seriously!)

Anyhow, yesterday I flipped on the TV and there was this commercial for an addiction recovery center. And it was gorgeous. Women relaxing in fluffy spa robes, yoga classes by the beach, a man looking fit and tranquil resting at the edge of an infinity pool. And according to the spokesman, the whole experience is covered by most insurance plans.

And I had to wonder....where is MY infinity pool? Where is my beach-front yoga class? And why can't I get insurance to pay for any of that?

No, I am not an addict. In fact, I never have been. I don't even drink. Never tried drugs. (My mom did a great job of scaring me out of even experimenting with those -- thank you, Mom!)  But that shouldn't be a barrier to an insurance-paid  fluffy white spa robe of my own, should it?

Now don't get me wrong. I am not belitting the horror of addiction. Or the trials people go through in trying to get and stay clean and sober. I have friends and family members who have been down that path, and I have seen what they have been through. And I'm eternally grateful I did not face those issues.

But in all fairness, shouldn't there be a reward for exhausted moms and dads who stayed addiction-free?  An insurance-covered retreat if you make it to say, 35 or 40 without ever having a chemical addiction? Call it a medical pat on the back for managing to make it through the teen years, college, work, marriage, sleepless nights with babies, school aged kids and moody teens of our own (and for some of us, through in divorce, single parenthood and remarriage, too) , without becoming addicted.

Because, when you think about it, that is a pretty major accomplishment! So I think a completely free week or two at a beach-front spa is the least we could get in return. So do you think we could get this passed by Congress?

Let's get one of those petitions going on Facebook for a mandate to all insurance companies to give unaddicted moms and dads something to look forward to after they face all of life head on. With a fluffy spa robe and an infinity pool of their very own. With three nights of bad sleep and a moody teen at home, it sounds awfully good to me.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Blessing bags for the homeless

Image from Joy's Hope
I was surfing around Pinterest, looking for ideas for our Faerie House for the festival at Zilker Park, when I came across a picture entitled "Blessing Bags".  I had to click in to see what that was about, and then click again to reach the blog post.

What I found was a post from KWAV (Kids with a Vision) about creating these blessing bags to give to the homeless. Homelessness is HUGE here in Austin, Texas, so I was immediately interested.

I've heard people talking about putting some snacks in bags, but this went further. As you can see in the picture, these included soap and Tynenol, toothpaste and deoderant, as well as some food.  It shouldn't feel revolutionary to me...I've done personal care bags for a couple of projects. But somehow, I didn't connect the dots. And I've worked with projects to provide food to homeless and in-need people for years.

Food + personal care items + some change + a bag = something to keep in the car to hand out.

The timing is perfect....

Last night, we were downtown for a walk with a group. My daughter and I stopped to admire a dog who was walking with two young guys -- one maybe in his late teens, one maybe about 20 or so. After petting the pup, the younger guy asked if we had some change we could spare for "a couple of street kids." My daughter apologized that she didn't...and he immediately responded.  "Don't apologize! You talked to us, like we were real people.  That matters a lot."  I wanted to cry. "Like we were real people."?  As though they were less than that??

I dug two one dollar bills out of my purse, and handed them to the younger guy.  He immediately gave one to his friend. They said thank you, and we said good-night and walked on.

After our stroll, we headed back to the car, and passed the same two young men. "Thank you so much again", the man said. "For everything."  My husband, who hadn't been with us earlier, asked why he had thanked us.

I explained.

"All that for a dollar," he asked?


All that for a dollar. And some friendly conversation with a couple of strangers.

How nice it would have been to have had a bag to hand them, with some snacks, some personal care things, and maybe one of those silver space blankets to ward off the chill. How nice it would be, when I stop to hand someone a few quarters at a stop light, to be able to add a bag to my gift.

So thank you, Pinterest...and KWAV, for inspiring me. I have some bags to make. (Want to make your own?  Here's my list of ideas!)

PS...The post where the picture came from suggested putting religious materials like tracts ot Bibles in the bags.  I am a very spiritual person, but I have a huge problem with mixing religion and basic needs like food and soap, so I won't be doing that. Just sayin'....

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Seven words for 2013

2013 image
While I was working on some ad content for a client, I came across the website for one of their clients. The site was called Wall Words. I've seen companies like this before, selling precut and custom vinyl words to put on walls in your house or business. 

Like most of them, they had words for holidays, quotes for kids rooms, and inspirational messages for all occasions. But then I saw it. 

"Choose 7 Strong Inspirational Words" it said. And there was a long list to pick from. Single words. 

And instantly I knew that this was going to be the basis for my New Year's project.

I usually do a vision board for the New Year...and I probably will this year, too. But the idea of distilling all of my hopes and wishes and plans for the coming year into 7 words...that was new. And that spoke to me.

I've had enough of mission statements and goals and steps toward goals. I'm exhausted at the prospect of yet another year of writing pages and pages of answers to "insightful" questions or "thought-provoking prompts."

But 7 words?  THAT I can handle.

So I started.

I miss my friends and family back home in Florida, but I am at a loss when it comes to keeping those relationships strong. This summer, I renewed my relationship with my father, but he lives far away, and I don't know how to overcome the years of silence and build on what we started. I haven't found friends here in Texas, and that means I'm usually lonely.

So what one word fits all of these? CONNECTION. I long for connection. I need it, crave it, want it, and hope to figure out how to build it. It's not on their list...but it's the first word on my list.

Next, I have been struggling to find a way to build my freelance business. I was a student, then a grad student, then an at-home mom, and then I became a single mom with a full time job.  Then a better full time job. But with the move to Austin, those corporate positions vanished, and I found myself competing with the just-out-of-college people who are willing to work for pennies.

I have no idea how to find clients and build my base. So from all of that, my next word is FOCUS. I need to focus on learning how to find people who need what I do. And then focus on letting them know how I can help. Again, not on their list -- thank goodness there's a custom option!

The next few did come from the Wall Words list.  SERENITY. I definitely need more of that. Along with the interior peace and quiet that go with it. TRUST comes next. I have some big issues with trust, and although I've improved, there are still miles to go. HEART is another one. I need to pay more attention to heart, and less to the voices in my mind that keep showing me all the reasons I can't do what I want to do, or why it's impractical or who might not approve.

The sixth word on my list is ADVENTURE. I want to be more willing to go after take those leaps of faith, to push fear aside more often and just go for it.

My final word is a short one...the shortest of the seven as a matter of fact. But it's the biggest one for me to confront. HEAL. I need to allow myself to heal. Learn to heal. Heal from the loss of my mom, and the unfinished business that was left behind with her passing. I need to heal from seeing the worst of the past in people in my life now.

So those are my goals and plans for 2013. Just seven little words.


Do you have seven words? I would love to hear your words...and your story. Leave me a link with your seven word plan for 2013. (As always, PG, please.)