Tuesday, October 16, 2012
While many critics are outraged at the depiction of Ms. Thatcher's decline into dementia as being disrespectful and exploitative, I wholeheartedly disagree. I found the mood of the movie, very tasteful and compassionate. Dementia is quite common among the elderly and is a most unfortunate fact. Because the director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) chose to portray this fact, this movie brings to light thought provoking issues like, perhaps society should think twice before dismissing the elderly and all that they have contributed to the world. That senior citizens are not to be thrown away or disregarded, but honored for the sacrifices they've made. That regardless of their current state of mind, in no way does that indicate that great things have not been done.
Lloyd focuses on telling the story of the woman Margaret Thatcher while portraying key political events from an objective point of view. Not an easy feat. She shows that while Ms Thatcher made decisions she believed to be best for her country and people, she was still moved by human loss and suffering. Meryl Streep's high caliber performance is nothing less than amazing and her presence brings exceptional quality to an already high quality film. Regardless of what your feelings are about Margaret Thatcher, this movie is a must see.
- Hang plants when possible. Many people set pots on top of entertainment centers or tables. Unfortunately that creates the perfect climbing and jungle play area for your kitty. Not only do they love to climb, but they'll especially enjoy stalking through, swatting and rubbing against that plant. By hanging plants from the ceiling away from ledges when possible, kitty won't be as inclined to bother with it.
- For larger plants on the floor, try setting an empty pot on fly paper or poster board with clear packing tape (adhesive side UP). Make sure there is at least 8 inches of adhesive showing all around the pot. Your pooch or feline friend will soon learn that getting too close to the pot can get them in a sticky situation. Once they stop approaching the pot, replant your foliage and keep it on the adhesive board/fly paper until you're certain your pets won't bother it.
- A spray bottle with water is a great way to deter your furry friends from plants (or any other area off limits. Simply set the nozzle on the “stream” setting and spray your pet when they approach the plant. Once again, it takes a little time depending on the animal but eventually they do learn that plants are not theirs to play with.
- Planting among cacti can also be a great way to keep pets out of your houseplants. For floor plants, place your potted plant on a much larger draining tray at least twice as big in diameter as the base of the pot. Add decorative rock. Then place very small pots (with their own small and properly fitted draining trays) with cacti in the rock. Your larger plant can drain without drowning the cacti. Pets may come around to check out the new plant, but when they learn the cacti are not pleasant, they will avoid them.
- Due to a heightened sense of hearing, most dogs (and cats too for that matter) do not like the sound of pennies/pebbles in a can. Keep the can with several pennies or small rocks close by. When your pet approaches the plant shake the can loudly and firmly say “NO!” You may have to do this several times, perhaps for a week, but your pet will eventually make the connection between an unpleasant experience and the plant.
- For larger areas such as flowerbeds and trellises, green pet netting is an excellent way to keep pets out of garden areas. The rolled netting is barely visible and easy to install. It is available at many home improvement stores and nurseries. It can even be used to keep cats from jumping back fences and walls. Your neighbors will love you.
- Planting herbs with scents that dogs and cats do not like, is an excellent way to deter them. Lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and mustard are some herbs that have a reputation for offending your puppy or kitty's sensitive sniffer. Simply plant them in the same pot if possible. The scent will repel your pet from the plant. Coffee grounds/beans are also said to have the same effect. If you don't want to actually grow the herbs, dabbing the pots with the essential oils is also effective. Just be sure to dab in areas where your pet can't lick (just in case). For outdoor gardens, planting peppermint among flowers can help deter pets from trampling your beautiful garden.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Rather than bore you with the drama that's been happening this past week, I thought it better to focus on finding my peaceful place and how I go about doing that.
To me, it's the same concept. When events chaotic and it seems that it's just one problem after another, we need to stop, take a deep breath and send out to the universe our desire for serenity. But I don't think this can be done with an anxious or hurried attitude. I believe it must be done with a gentle and calm intent. Like setting a paper sailboat on a gently moving stream or softly blowing those soap bubbles on the plastic stick. If we move too quickly or with too much force the boat tips over or the bubble pops.
So how do we reach that calm? How do we lovingly send into the universe peace when kids are screaming, bills are piling up or the phone is ringing off the hook? Well first I just stop. Just plain come to a screeching halt. I turn my phone on silent, close my eyes and take a deep cleansing breath or two then remind myself that all this is only temporary. That soon enough, peace will come. I sometimes imagine myself in a cool forest and try to imagine the smell of the earth and the sound of the trees in the breeze. I try to imagine it to the very last detail. Sometimes I imagine a warm tropical paradise with turquoise water that looks shallow and the pristine sand below. Those are just my peaceful places, but you can think of anywhere you want. Once I pick a place, I allow that serenity to soak into my being so that in THAT attitude, I can focus on prioritizing the issues that need my attention and deal with them, one at a time. Things that are resolvable are resolved. Things that are being attended to but will take time to resolve are filed in the mental file cabinet "check on progress later". And things that I cannot change I try to find a way to see the good in it or ask what lesson can be learned or how can it be prevented again.
Sometimes in the evening, my mind still goes and goes and just will NOT shut off, so I find mindless things to occupy myself with. Activities like mah jong or looking at pretty images and collecting them in albums work well for me. But I stay away from anything which requires real thought or that has any negative feeling. No news, no tv dramas, no lists of what has to be done the next day and NO Facebook where I'm reading about other people's drama. In essence, I create a happy bubble if only for a short time. It's a place to recharge, regroup and remember that while things can be intense, it's only temporary and our character is being tested.
Creating a soothing environment also helps in calming the storm. Sometimes pleasant scents, fountains, candles, voiceless music such as classical or piano can help with soothing nerves. I prefer food smells. They're comforting to me. My daughter prefers floral scents. Candles are calming even if only burning on a corner table or otherwise in the background. And as far as music goes, I ALWAYS have soothing music/nature sounds playing in my home. I believe that soothing music is positive and therefore there is no room for negativity. However, when I play other types of music such as pop, rock or whatever, things do indeed become more active. Then it's only a matter of time before bickering happens, dogs begin acting up more and the noise level in our home goes up. I limit my exposure to those kinds of music to when I work out, when I'm driving alone in the car or sometimes when entertaining. I don't think there is anything wrong with upbeat music, however when things are chaotic and you're needing things to calm down, try putting on some nature sounds or soft piano music. The sound of birds, crickets or whales is sooooo soothing.
And if all the above still isn't helping you're seriously stressed and just need a giant glass of wine!
Give it a try. I'd love to hear how YOU calm down when things are crazy. I've also included some beautiful pics that calm me down....maybe they'll do the same for you....
Namaste & God Bless,
Friday, June 17, 2011
Geez where do I begin? Have you ever had someone in your life who you just seemed to “get”? Someone who for whatever reason just seems to make sense when everyone else just doesn't “get” him/her? Meet Steven. He is my 5th of five children. As of this writing, he is 16 years old. He is my last child and while all my children hold some part of me whether in looks, beliefs, mannerisms or more, Steven's obscurity and free will is so beautiful to see since it is a reflection of my own characteristics. Characteristics that go against the grain and which took me a long time to accept. To see them in my son is profound, humbling and downright scary. However at the same time, they're beautiful to see. I can only imagine how my mother felt when I was thinking the same kinds of things that Steven does and how I was trying out life like there was a “reset” button somewhere if things didn't go as planned. My poor mother!
Steven has a gypsy's soul. He likes adventure and is most definitely a risk taker. Gulp! He does not conform to the expectations of society nor is he a follower. He is not a leader either. He simply marches to the beat of his own drum. A metaphor that is most fitting for him due to the fact that his sense of rhythm is amazing. His beatbox talents are the kind that would be sure to go viral if he could get over being shy long enough to allow me to video him. He yearns for a drum set and if I had the money, would get for him in a heartbeat. I really hate to see good talent wasted and his are being wasted. I can only hope that in the near future, I can get him the drum set he wants.
Steven is too smart for his own good. He loves to learn. He enjoys useless knowledge and trivia. As a younger child he would enjoy Children Almanacs, Ripley's Believe it or Not books, books about rocks, stars and the like. Yet even to this day, getting him to do his homework is a struggle. He likes to tinker and discover solutions to mechanical and electrical things. He enjoys taking things apart and reassembling them. He is the one in our family who has hooked up the surround sound, the dvd players, showed me how my own phone works and had discovered ways around his high school's firewalls so he can play games on his computer while in class. He is good at nearly all sports but has no desire to be on a team.
Yet I'd have to say with all these beautiful qualities, my favorite is his sense of humor. Steven has an animated way about him that when combined with his tones, comments and timing, all too many times has diffused a serious moment even to the point of my forgetting what I was scolding him about. One time when I was explaining to him that I had gotten a job and our financial troubles would soon get better, I told him that the “light was at the end of the tunnel.” His response was to get a thoughtful look on his face, stroke his chin and respond “But how long is the tunnel?” I was rolling! Another time a teacher told him (most teachers can't stand Steven btw) that if he were an animal he'd be a jackass. Steven's response was “if you were a body part, you'd be a dick”......BAHAHA!! Okay okay so as a mom I'm not supposed to find that funny but geez my son stood up for himself, refusing to allow the insult of a tyrannical teacher to get the best of him. Instead, he responded with a quick wit, and gave it right back to the teacher. The entire class roared in laughter and the teacher backed off. Yes, Steven is the class clown of all class clowns.
Steven's softness and his perfectly timed compassion when I really need a shoulder is nothing short of amazing. With my health being less that great lately, he sometimes notices when I'm tired and overwhelmed. He wraps his arms around me, tells me he loves me and suggests that I get some sleep. He asks me to tell him what's wrong and listens. Funny huh since most teenagers don't listen.
Steven's grades are awful. Not because he doesnt' understand the work or lessons, but because he has trouble sitting still. He has ADHD and I've decided to not put him on medication. Why? Because when he was on it, he was a zombie. We tried ritalin, concerta, stratera and adderol. The latter had good results, but the doctor kept raising his dosage every few months and informed me that by the time he would be 12, he would be at the maximum dosage allowed. Then what? No one was addressing coping skills. No one was teaching him how to live day to day. Yet all the “experts” were just wanting to have my son popping pills to cope. WTF? How is that coping? So I restricted his diet and removed items from our pantry that were shown to aggravate his condition. I kept a minimalistic home as much as possible to avoid excessive stimuli. Besides it looks cleaner. I talked with him and explained that there wasn't anything wrong with him but he's just a little quirky like the rest of us. This is just his quirk. And so over the years, he continues to learn how to identify when he's “off” and just needs to retreat and wait till he “feels better”. I believe acceptance and understanding are key when knowing Steven. It takes a little extra time. A tiny bit more effort, but in the end, knowing Steven is an honor, having him as a friend is a true gift and having him in my life is a blessing that I thank God for.
Why the tiny baby pics? Because when I was pregnant with Steven, I went into full labor at 24 weeks and was rushed to the hospital. After loading me up with magnesium sulfate and keeping me on my back for four days, a neo natal intensive care pediatrician consulted with me to explain what would happen if he were to be born at that stage of life. He would've had neurological issues, heart issues, brain and mental issues, breathing issues, and the list goes on. They stressed that it was crucial that one parent would have to be present to hold him and touch him every day. And that there was no telling what the long term problems would be. We (drs and I)managed to keep the pregnancy till the 38th week. So ADHD is nothing compared to how bad it could've been. The picture is of a baby the exact size that Steven would've been had he been born.
Steven has been the most challenging of all my children since infancy, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. All those people who have told me to just be harsher with discipline, to give him medication to dull his spirit so he could conform, who told me that he was bad because he got bored with their inadequate teaching “skills”....all those people were wrong. They were/are wrong in their narrow minded thinking. They're wrong to expect every child to fit in a box. They're wrong to think that all problems are solved with the cutting of a switch (yes he got spanked but some people's advice bordered abuse/control). Every child is different. Each soul is unique and to expect every soul to be molded into someone else's ideal is just unrealistic. It doesn't make someone a rebel or insolent. It simply means that it takes a little more thinking. It takes coming out of your society induced cloud of thinking and to take the time to get to know a really great person. It's been worth every minute.
Steven is not perfect by any means. He has his faults like the rest of us. I don't address them here because he has sheeple remind him daily of his shortcomings and what's the point in that?
He is a wonderful young man, full of life, humor, compassion, talent in addition to his good looks. He is smart, free, a risk taker and has one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. He is misunderstood by the majority but so were most of the great people in history.
He is Steven. He is my son and it is my honor to be his mother.
I love you Mijo......<3
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Yesterday my daughter turned 17. I found myself walking down memory lane, recalling those times in her life which just seemed to stick out more than others. It's been a wonderful and challenging journey. She has grown into a beautiful, free and wise young woman. She is every bit girly complete with an incredible ability to spread her massive collection of “girly things” around the house. But let me back track and start at the beginning.
Heather was born in Buffalo New York only 3 ½ months after we relocated from California. My pregnancy was a difficult one due to the stress of leaving an abusive relationship. This caused me to be in and out of the hospital regularly and to be put on medication to prevent further premature labor. She was born exactly three weeks early after only 2 ½ hours of labor. Even though she met the weight requirements to come home, she was still the smallest of all my children and had health issues right away. She eventually outgrew them. Even today I call her my “sick baby” simply because whenever she gets sick, she gets it worse than everyone else. If I have a 2 day flu, she gets it for a week. If her brother gets a 101 fever, hers is 103 and so on.
Heather's energy is lightweight, fresh, soft and a little fragile like a cool breeze in the morning when there is still dew on the ground. If I had to pick a color for her soul, it would be pink. So it does not surprise me that her favorite color is pink. I see her a soft pale pink, she prefers a brighter, stronger hue. I think the difference is due to my seeing all her frailties and her finding her strength. Either way, it's beautiful.
My daughter has the rare and beautiful ability to verbalize that which most of us cannot put into words. She can see things for how they are and is very wise beyond her years. She can see inside people and reveal hidden feelings, motives, strengths and weaknesses. Whether you want to call it the Gift of Knowledge and Wisdom or Clairvoyance.....it's beautiful.
Heather's creativity is just another of her many God given talents. In her early years, she won numerous art contests and had her artwork displayed in the local art museum. Her artwork won first and second place in competitions and has even had her artwork chosen to represent the postcard that was sent out to residents from the local Boys & Girls Club. That same artwork was framed and displayed in the Governor's office. There were many times she would get into my crafting notions and either embellish her clothing or make jewelry to wear with an outfit. As frustrating as it was to find my carefully organized items gone through, the end results were not less than amazing. Today, she channels her creativity into makeup and hairstyling. She is not afraid to experiment with new looks and often tests out her new looks at school.
While Heather is kind, compassionate and gentle, she is by no means a sucker to charm or smooth talking. She opens her heart to those who struggle and offers a helping hand whenever possible. She is also aware of the condition of our precious planet and does her part in protecting it. This can be from standing by someone's side while going through rehab, offering a caring shoulder and attentive ear to someone hurting and even going to her knees in prayer for someone who perhaps wouldn't be getting prayed for. Her benevolent spirit causes those who see it to look within themselves and makes them want to be a better, kinder and gentler person as well.
Is she perfect? Of course not. But why focus on the negative when there is SOOO much positive. She is a beautiful soul. An amazingly wise soul. She is softness in a harsh world. She is kindness in a selfish world. She is sunshine in a gray world. Her presence brings a smile to your face. In fact, I wanted her to always know how my spirit felt with her in my life, that I gave her the middle name of Victoria. She is my daughter and it is my honor to be her mother.
I love you Heather. Happy Birthday.
Namaste & God Bless,
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I had a close call this month. And the more I reflect on how this situation could possibly happen to me, the more I realize that this recession is simply kicking a lot of us in the butt.
As it turns out I find myself staring homelessness in the face never knowing if I'll have a place to stay from week to week. So far, I've managed to survive 6 weeks since my roommate took the rent money and left me with overdue utilities and a 5 day or quit notice. It has been intense to say the least. However, I've managed to get two part time jobs and a roommate to help me try to stay afloat. We'll have to see.
But in the meantime, I keep my eyes open for affordable housing just in case. And of course I have my favorite property management company Scottsdale Fine Properties conveniently bookmarked on my computer. I can peruse their website in search of luxury homes as well as nicer apartments and more. They can work quickly and I know will help me transition into a new to me home, should I need their services. It's a little comforting knowing they'll take are of me.
But for now, I take things one week at a time until my situation turns around financially. I am quickly learning the art of negotiation and barter. And it is fast becoming more and more pleasant. Perhaps the “thrill of the hunt?” Who knows? Aside from the finances, we're fed, warm, healthy, safe, dry and most of all loved. We will survive even if we do end up losing our home. Yet it still hurts knowing that I'm so close to losing something that I put so much money and effort into.
However amidst all the craziness, I keep certain values and principals in place, trying to make a warm and safe home for my children while still trying to help others who may be in the same boat as I am, even if it is only for this week. I still am decorating for Christmas and doing all the things people do in their homes. But this never knowing if I'll be able to come up with rent haunts me much in the same way a dull ache in the knee never quite lets you forget that it's there.
I find my faith shaken as I bundle up due to not having heat in my home. I try not to be angry nor bitter at my ex roommate while we bathe in cold water and hand wash our clothing in the bathtub. And I've missed a week of work due to car problems that prevent me from getting there. The same job I've had for only a week. The car problems are easy fixes and I will spend the next few days on threads and forums looking for ways to possibly repair it myself and hopefully save my job.
Yes, my faith is shaken indeed.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
It seems that in addition to purples and lavenders being this year's hottest decorating colors, aqua has come back full swing. This soothing cross between blue and green was very popular in the 1950's and was found in painted walls, textiles and even heavier furniture pieces. But like many trends, the obsession with the color aqua didn't stop there. It was found on cars, clothing and on pretty much anything that had a color.
Today, decorating with the color aqua is a little different than it was back in the day. As you can see in the photos, a little goes a long way. Aqua can be used as an accent color to add a touch of softness as in the white bathroom pictured on the right. If you're going to use aqua on the walls, try painting a focal wall first before painting the entire room. Then accent with pillows or vases to bring the color throughout the room. If you feel you would like to add more color, you can always paint more walls starting with the wall opposite the focal wall. If a more modern look is your style, you'll be happy to know that aqua works very well with black or chocolate brown. In fact, there is blog dedicated to the color combination of aqua and brown. It's called Chocolate Blues. But aqua isn't just for modern décor. It works well with cottage and shabby chic themed design as well as luxury or glamorous décor as well.
Another upside of decorating with aqua is that it is a lighter color and reflects light rather well. This means that it will work well with very small rooms and tight spaces. To create the illusion of even more space along with luxury, try using the color aqua with mirrored surfaces and silver items. The effect is stunning! For a fresh mix of color add touches of salmon or melon. The possibilities are numerous.
Proper lighting as I've said so many times before is key when decorating. The wrong lighting fixtures or bulbs can make all the difference between a cold, sterile environment and a welcoming and cozy home. And when decorating with specific colors, great lighting is essential. When looking for lighting be sure to take a look at my favorite lighting store Premier Lighting at shoppremier.com. They have everything you can imagine for any of your lighting needs. The prices are very reasonable, the people know their stuff and they ship almost everywhere!
So you have your awesome aqua décor. Soothing, calming and soooo relaxing. You have your amazing lighting creating the moooood. Now all you need is something cozy to curl up on and either a remote, a book, a drink or whatever you prefer. But for now, take a look at the pics for some ideas.
Namaste & God Bless