Monday, December 28, 2009
After my mom died I took over most of her belongings. It was too painful for her brother and my grandparents to take anything, so they pawned it all off on me, citing that I would be honored to have these little reminders of her everyday. I was sixteen and hadn't yet figured out how to say no to anyone, so I took most of it.
The clothes that didn't fit me I convinced my grandmother to donate to a women's shelter in Los Angeles. I held on to pretty much everything else. Including her make-up and toiletries.
My mom loved Giorgio. But at some point she stopped buying it because the same scent seemed to come out of a little yellow striped can that stated, "If you like Giorgio, you'll love...". Since the can wasn't the real thing (and the smell of it kind of made me sick), I had no problem tossing it into the trash.
She had a plastic bottle of Jafra body lotion, which I used up within the first few months. I didn't relate the smell to just my mom since I've always used my mom's lotion. It was hardly like using my mom's lotion at all.
And then she had a glass bottle of Oil of Olay. Pink glass. Black label. I can hear the sound of the black plastic cap being screwed off the glass top. I can smell the Original scent of creme. I can feel the moisture being locked into my skin after my morning shower.
I don't remember when I actually finished that bottle, because I kept it for quite some time after I emptied it into my pores. It might have been a few months, it might have been a few years. I'm sure I used it long after the expiration date had passed, though, because I remember at one point seeing 04/92 stamped on the bottle. Seeing the date now reminds me of just how long ago that really was.
For a long time I remembered how much I missed my mom, and a moment like this morning where I was taken back to the scent of my mother's Oil of Olay might have sent me into a long list of why it's so horrible that my mom was taken away from me so long ago. But when that moment this morning happened, I simply smiled. I remembered my mom. And I thanked her for my youthful skin. I doubt I would have started using the Olay at age 16 had it not been for her.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I keep having this dream (even when they suck, I hate to call them nightmares) that I get the book published and no one buys it. Or that two people buy it and they both tell me it's crap. Or that five people buy it and they form a group to come TP my house because they expected more out of me. I hide inside while I see rolls of toilet paper flying hither and thither, and people from the neighborhood join in on the egg throwing and the toilet paper tossing while my dog looks at me in contempt and refuses to protect me. Dreams are stupid. At least the ones I refuse to call nightmares are.
I know this is just fear of working for years on a project that doesn't relate to anyone. And I know this fear is unfounded. Everyone I've handed the book to has been touched. The greatest compliment I got from handing the book out to my cast of feedbackers was that most of them cried. It's not that I was trying to make anyone cry; I just told my story. And while my story is written around the cancer that took my father from me, the basis was the relationship between my father and I. I guess the story's not for everyone, but I've realized that I'm not really writing it for anyone else; I'm writing it for me.
Without this book and the last three years of writing it, I might not have ever learned a thing from my father's death but that he's not coming back. By reflecting, by writing, I've been able to connect with me. Who I was then, who I am now, and who I'm on my way to becoming. I've learned more about myself in this past year or four than I have in the my thirty years prior. I've been able to connect with myself in a way I never knew existed, let alone thought was possible. I guess that connection is what people relate to, not the details of my story.
We're all human. We all feel. We all have relationships, whether they work for us or not. Those relationships all need tending to. And at some point all of those relationships will cease to exist, whether we like to admit it or not. By change, by circumstance, by accident, by death. I want to create as much learning, as much healing as I can in the relationships that haven't yet ceased to exist.
I guess I'm still trying to figure it all out.
In the meantime, I'll just keep writing.
What about you?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
And so I remain in progress, as ever I will be while I'm alive (don't you, too?). At some point the book will be finished and cease to be in progress, but me, I prefer to always be on to the next bit of growth.
As for the book...I'll be testing excerpts (although is it still an excerpt if it doesn't actually end up in the book?) to see how it feels to get some of this out into the world.
I must remember to breathe.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
We think he got bit by a spider. At least, that's what the vet told us probably happened when we took him in a couple weeks ago. They gave us some antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory for him, and told us to bring him back in for a follow up in a week. We washed his penny-sized "thing" on the side of his belly for a week, then put the antibiotic cream on it twice a day, and gave him his anti-inflammatory pills with a treat every night. The "thing" didn't get bigger, but it certainly didn't get smaller. So we took him back on Sunday.
They said Jax is too young for it to be a mast cell tumor, but in any event, it's probably better to just have it removed. Which is what's happening as I type.
The car ride to the vet wasn't much different than any other. With the back windows rolled down, Jackson stuck his head out the driver's side window and let his ears and jowls flap in the wind. When we pulled up to the curb, he was anxious to get out, hoping I was taking him exploring. I was not.
Once inside the vet, he behaved like normal. Sat when I asked him to, growled at a child (he doesn't understand what children are or why they're so fidgety or loud), and then laid at my feet to protect me from the little boy with the kitten in his hands. And then he started to shake.
I don't know why he started to shake, I can only assume that dogs are more in tune with their intuition than humans. Just as I started to comfort him, one of the nurses asked me to confirm some information and sign some papers before they let him in the back to get prepped for surgery. As I signed the documents, I noticed myself getting choked up. Am I crying?
Tears did not flow, but I'm glad the nurse didn't ask me to speak anything more than "yes," "no," and "okay." I knew he was just going in to have a "thing" removed, and that he'd be fine, but he's my baby, my boy, my Bubs. I can't even begin to imagine how I'll react when I have an actual child and he or she gets hurt. For now, I'll settle for being emotional about my dog going in for surgery.
Another nurse came from the back and said it was time to take Jackson back. I almost just handed his leash off and walked away, but just before I did, I knelt on one knee in front of him and asked for kisses. Bubs obliged. I felt myself getting emotional all over again. I handed the leash over and watched him walk to the prep room and out of sight. A lump settled in my throat until I realized I'd been standing there for at least a minute after Bubs was out of sight.
I asked a nurse at the reception desk how long she thought it would be, and she said at least a couple of hours. She said the doctor would call me when she was finished with the surgery to let me know how it went and when I can pick him up. I walked out of the vet's office and began to cry.
It's not like we're having him put down. I know he's going to be fine, and it's just a minor surgery to have a little "thing" removed. And still, I worry. He's my baby, my boy, my Bubs. I want to fast forward to after the phone call, after picking him up, after he's recovered and he doesn't have to wear the cone around his neck to protect the wound from licking. But that's not how life goes. So I'll just wait for the call, pick him up, and try not to laugh at the silly cone that will need to go around his neck. This isn't just another Tuesday morning, at all.
Monday, August 31, 2009
So with today comes a breath of fresh air, fresh life into the book. I don't know that everything I'll be working on in the next couple of weeks will even make it into the book, but I must start this process.
I had a dream I was on Oprah's yellow couch, listening to her talk about my book. Maybe that's because I (poorly, as you can see, but it gets the job done!) photoshopped myself onto her couch last week with my book in her hands. I believe in the law of attraction, and am certain that posting it on my vision board will help me get there. Of course, I know that just posting it won't get me there...and that's where the digging comes back into play.
So, off to dig I go...I wonder what I will find for you....
Friday, August 28, 2009
Yesterday was a day of exploration. My friend, Lisa Mae, and I got on a train in Long Beach and headed north at 9AM this morning. Here's a recap of our experiences:
A man with extraordinarily long legs sat next to me, and was gracious enough to apologize when his knees bumped me along the ride. My favorite part of his interaction with me was his direct eye contact. Eye contact can be so uncomfortable with strangers, yet with this man, I saw his kindness and warmth, without an ounce of "I bet you'll look away before me!" What a great start to the morning!
A woman on the train just a few minutes later began a conversation with Lisa Mae over her hair. Lisa Mae apparently resembles the woman's daughter, and so she felt it necessary to give Lisa Mae tips on how to dye and take care of her hair. After the short conversation, the woman moved back a couple rows to sit with her friend, and continued to stare in silence at Lisa Mae until she stepped off the train. I guess we all need a little conversation.
We walked up one street and down another and across another and back up the same street to find a breakfast spot near the Staples Center. Thinking we were headed for IHOP (which we weren't terribly excited about, but it seemed to be the only place promising to be open in the area before noon), we happened upon The Original Pantry Cafe and proceeded to eat breakfast inside the Historical Landmark. Do you know they've never been closed since they opened their doors in 1924? They don't even have locks on the doors!
There are no bars on Sunset between Vine and Highland (aside from the one inside the Arclight, which we bypassed, thinking another would be just up the street--not a good idea, walking in 100-degree weather). Lisa Mae said out loud to me, for no apparent reason, "I'd love to see Michael Jackson's star!" Just a few minutes after her wish, on our way up to Hollywood Blvd from Sunset (simply because that was the route we accidentally took), we glanced down to find this:
My, the Universe is speedy.
We had a drink in Hooters and all I can say about that is: it must be hot running around in those pantyhose all day.
We skipped half-way down a street block to a vintage clothing store. While skipping, I turned to Lisa Mae and said, "I don't think it's possible to skip without smiling!!"
While walking around City Walk at Universal, this sign caught Lisa Mae's eye:
So then we did this:
If you know me at all, you know that I despise the heights. Especially the variety where people jump out of planes that aren't even on fire. It seemed like a happy medium, where the wind came out of the ground, I never got more than 6 feet off the ground (which I think is a pretty good way to stay away from 6 feet under it), and I didn't have to jump out of a plane. Afterward, we celebrated with a beer.
This man joined us on the last leg of our trip back to Long Beach:
He brought his own chair and sat at the head of the train. It was like he planned to have an audience. In my bliss of the day, and enjoying my previous experience of direct eye contact on the train, I looked the man in the eye and smiled. This was apparently his cue for action. He took off his headphones and began to preach verses from the Bible. I sat next to Lisa Mae and watch this man perform his sermon of sorts, delighted with his passion for the Lord. And then it turned... well, I'll let you be the judge. He said (and I quote), "God don't like it when one woman lick on another woman. No he don't." He went on to say something about balls on a billy goat and a giant knocking at the door, at which point I stopped listening. But with all the ruckus of his ranting, I couldn't help but look up at him every now and then and smile. One of the times I looked up at him, he looked me right in the eye and said he'd kill me if I raped his wife. I had and ahve no intention, so I felt safe. A few minutes later a LA County Sheriff's officer stepped forwards and we all though he'd escort the screaming man off the train. He did not. He pulled out his ticket book just before the train stopped, stepped off the train and proceeded to walk to patrons on the deck to see if they had a ticket for the train. Apparently it's more important to the Sheriff's office that you pay for a ticket for the train than maintain orderly conduct once you're on it. Which isn't to say that I wanted the screaming man to get arrested, or even a ticket, I just would have liked a quieter ride home. But I guess if I had that, I wouldn't have this story to tell you.
And that was our day. How was yours?
For another spin on this day from me, go here.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I went ahead and painted something in the last couple of weeks. A moose. A friend of mine like moose (not meese, Erin), and I thought I'd paint her one. I warned her that the end result may look nothing like an actual moose, but I was surprised to see that it does. A little. The antlers give it away, otherwise one might think it's just J-Lo in a deer suit. But here it is:
In other news, I've gotten a little bit of feedback on the book (I sent it out to 9 people, and I've heard snippits from 6 of them), and so far, so good. It's been pretty much what I've expected, that the story is solid, and there are some adjustments that need to be made. This makes sense, as I've never written a book before. One of the things I didn't expect was this:
"I intuitively knew this was going to be an important book and now it has been confirmed."Wow. As I've been writing the book, I guess I've known the importance all along (it's kind of what's driven me to this point), I just couldn't know the impact until I let it go off to Kindergarten to see what it might do in the world.
I'm learning as I go and not letting "not knowing how to do it" keep me from doing it. I'm excited to get everyone's notes back and get to work on the final product. Once I finish revising based on the feedback I get, I'll be ready to look into the means to get it published. I have a couple of options to look at, so I'll just have to be patient and see what pans out.
If you want to be on a mailing list to be notified when the book is available for purchase, please email me at dian[at]dianreidwrites[dot]com.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I can't seem to remember all the little projects I used to distract me from writing the book (for a while there I seemed to be pretty good at finding things to do that were not writing my book). You'd think a writer would have made a list...
Maybe I'll paint a little. Maybe I'll start another writing project. Maybe I'll golf. Maybe I'll coach. Maybe I'll take a bath in the middle of the day just because I can. Maybe I'll cook up some poetry, or an essay, just for fun. Maybe I'll celebrate. Whatever I do, it won't have anything to do with opening up a word document from the folder, "7 Days". At least not until September 1st. Seems like the right thing to do, to wait for the feedback before I start making changes.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This morning I printed a copy of the book and handed it to a friend to give me some feedback. I'm headed to Kinkos as soon as I'm finished with this blog and printing off six more copies. One for Texas, One for Orange County, two for Long Beach, one for Studio City, and one for Venice Beach. Some are giving me technical feedback of, "take this out, put that there, add more here," and some are giving me real life feedback of, "this really spoke to me, wish there was more on that."
My emotions seem to be bred from fear. Fear that it's all crap. Fear that I just spent three years putting my soul on paper and it's not going to amount to anything. Fear that I'll get ripped to shreds in the feedback that I've gone and asked for. I realize the fears are unfounded, even irrational. The important thing is that I'm processing through it. Feeling the fear, addressing the fear, and moving forward anyway. It's the only way to let the fear go. It will come up again, I'm sure of it. No life is sans fear. And when it does, lather, rinse, repeat.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
- Big brushes cover more space than, say, small brushes.
- When you mix colors and run out of that mix, it's hard to recreate it; best to make a lot.
- There are no lines to paint inside or outside of; I get to create my own lines.
- When a color is gone, that color is gone until you buy more paint.
- Size your painting to the canvas; it does not shrink to fit.
- I can create beauty, even in a mess of paint.
- Bristles fall right out of cheap brushes.
- Light colors do not hide a charcoal sketch.
- Jackson will bark every time I need a steady hand.
- What ends up on the canvas looks nothing like what was in my head.
- It's okay to suck at painting, at least I'm willing to learn.
- Wear comfy shoes if you stand on a hardwood floor; sore piggies are no good for creativity.
- No matter how much he tries, don't let the cat help you.
I used a brush that was really small because I forgot that I bought a larger set of brushes. But the extra time painting the background gave me a chance to lose myself in the brush strokes. I forgot to paint around the light at the top of the lighthouse, and was crushed at the thought of ruining my first painting. Until I realized that I could just paint over the red with white, and that the effect of the brush fade worked perfectly to show the fading light at the end of its reach. I didn't realize I'd have so much space left once I finished the logo, so I improvised by adding my company name and tag line. Divine intervention, I guess.
What I love about this painting is that I did everything wrong and it came out perfect. Critically, I'm sure it's a mess, but I learned so much about painting, and about patience, and not being attached to an outcome. I'm working on my second piece, and I have been able to exercise what I've learned so far, as well as pick up a few new tricks.
The creative space of painting is so much different than the creative space of writing. As I'm coming to the end of 7 Days I'm finding that I need more and more space from it. Finishing the book is an intense process, and if I don't step away for a minute or 90, I can't see the forest for the trees. I've been allowing my brain to shift and think on different levels, so when I come back to writing I have a fresh perspective. It's working brilliantly.
As for the book, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it no longer looks like a train.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I really don't know what the process is after I'm happy with a copy to hand to an editor or publisher. First I'll need to find an editor or publisher to hand it to. And then... Oprah, here I come.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
- Laugh out loud in the middle of a crowded room
- Dance in your living room with your dog or cat or an imaginary friend if you have no animals
- Sit on your couch with your feet in the air
- Stick your toes in the water on a sandy beach
- Have your favorite dinner for breakfast
- Roll down a grassy hill (unless you're allergic to grass like me!)
- Send someone a silly card in the mail
- Play with your food
- Hula hoop in the park
- Run like Phoebe around the block
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I once thought that I was over my mom's death. Until I realized that whenever someone close to me would bring up their mom I would victimize myself in that I didn't have a mom and how hard it was for me on Mother's Day or her birthday or a random Tuesday because you can call your mom just because you feel like it and I can't. I realized that I had processed my mom's death, but I never processed the anger I felt around it. And so I carried that anger along with me where ever I went. I carried my anger with me to lunches and meetings and relationships and road trips and intimate dinners for two and large parties and into the shower and the bath and on walks and hikes and bike rides and to the grocery store. The anger didn't show up in everything I did nor everyone I talked to, so I thought it was manageable. Until I went through some coaching last month.
Not only did I acknowledge the fact that I was angry with my mom for leaving, for being a bad mother, for teaching me the wrong way to love so had to figure it out on my own, but I also gave myself permission to feel that anger. To really let it out and sob and scream and be ANGRY! I found that expressing this anger didn't take away my love for her, but it let me move past myself so that I could see and be at peace with the wonderful mother I had. While she was terrible at some things, she always did her best to be the best mother she knew how to be. I am who I am largely because of my relationship with my mother, in all its flawed brilliance. And because I felt the anger, because I let it pass through me, because I was willing to feel it and let it go, leave it in the past, I can now move forward a lighter person, without the weight of this bag of anger I carried around for so many years.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I sat in my chair thinking about how wrong it all was. How wrong that this man was yelling at this woman. How wrong that this woman was not able to ask a simple question to get further clarity. How wrong that this man was unleashing his frustration on this woman. How wrong that now it was two women and they were both crying. How wrong that these two women had been victimized by this man’s anger.
I wanted to walk across the room and hold those women. Hold them and tell them that everything was going to be okay. That this man was just a big bully and that his manners were terrible. That this man had lost himself and was too arrogant to see that you were just asking questions. I wanted to tell that man to get a hold of himself and have some compassion. I wanted to walk across the room and protect those women. Protect them from that man and his anger.
And all at once I wondered what it was in me that made me think that these women needed to be protected. I began to think about my own emotions and was completely uncomfortable in my chair watching this confrontation unfold. Confrontation is uncomfortable for me and I can’t be with it. I can’t just sit there and watch it unfold. I need to take action; I need to do something. And instead of doing anything, I continued to question myself and my motives as to what emotions were being stirred in me by just watching it all happen.
I felt uncomfortable, yes, but that was just on the surface. There was something more than discomfort there, something deeper. Underneath the discomfort I started to feel sadness. Sadness, not for the women being confronted, but for myself. Where did that come from? I could see my child-self in these women, and as a child I was incapable of protecting myself, I was incapable of standing up and speaking my mind--doing so would create a physically and verbally unsafe environment for me. As a child, I was unimportant and need not share my opinions because they didn’t matter, and wouldn’t be heard regardless. As I sat there and thought about these childhood feelings that were very much visiting me in the here and now, it occurred to me that somewhere along the line I became an adult.
And as an adult I have grown to learn that I can and do stand up for myself. I’ve learned that sometimes people get angry, even get angry with me. Sometimes the reason is valid, and sometimes it’s not. Whatever the reason, I’ve developed the skills to assess the argument, know its truth and address it accordingly. I’ve learned to own my part of that truth and discard the rest as I see fit. And then a flash of anger came.
As an adult I’ve learned these things, but as a child I hadn’t learned to protect myself. That job belonged to my parents. And they didn’t always do a good job. As I thought about that, the anger became stronger. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart beat faster. What was this about? And almost without thinking, I began to sob, I began to yell, to spew, to actually feel the feelings instead of sitting in my discomfort and trying to shift the focus onto something or someone else.
This experience happened over a period of a couple of hours, some of it in a large group of people, and other parts in a smaller, more intimate setting . These interactions and thoughts were the result of my training in Process. Process, being actually processing what’s happening for me right here and right now. What’s going on, what’s happening in my body right here right now, rather than what am I thinking about and how can I shift the focus from myself to someone else?
From that experience I was able to let go of some of the past simply by reminding myself that it was just that: the past. And the rest of it I was able to let go of because I allowed myself to just be present with myself in the moment. I was able to own my feelings as they were coming up, and acknowledge them, hold space for them and then give them permission to be released. I don’t need to hold onto that anger because I’ve now been able to express it. In that experience I was able to feel it all and let go of it pretty quickly. I suspect other things may not be as “easy” to release. But the important thing is that I’m learning to exercise the muscle that allows me to really be present with myself rather than deflecting.
Staying in the here and now has no room for anyone but whomever your emotions belong to (that would be you). I encourage you to find something you can’t be with today, and then to own it. For me, it was confrontation. My hands got clammy, my heart raced, I physically felt uncomfortable. Find whatever puts you in that place and then be with it. Really be with it. Honor it. Have compassion for yourself and those feelings, those emotions. Stand up for yourself and those feelings and emotions. Address them and love them. Actually feel your emotions. When you do this, the discomfort you feel will no longer be for hiding; it will be for growth.
This post is also available at coachdian.com. As I continue to build that site, I am working towards putting all coaching related posts there. I welcome your feedback!