Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Hedgehog

“They didn't recognize me," I repeat. He stops in turn, my hand still on his arm. "It is because they have never seen you," he says. "I would recognize you anywhere.” ―

Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

This is what love for humanity is for me. Because there really are no true enemies or 'others'. We are all on this journey together, and it is in seeing each other, really seeing, that we allow compassion, empathy, and love to flow from us to them. I'm grateful for those in my life who 'see' me. And I endeavor to work harder at 'seeing' others.

(I highly recommend Barery's book, and the movie that followed, The Hedgehog, for more wonderful gems like the one above.)

My search for images of a hedgehog led me here, and this line jumped out at me: "Hedgehogs teach the value of friendship with those who are different from you." All of my life I have had friends of all types, and a variety of different persuasions of religion, politics, or backgrounds, points of view, and vastly different experiences. I'm the person that maintains friendships for decades, honoring the connection to my past as well as the lessons learned over the years, and open to what we might be able to learn from each other to this day (the decades long friendship with my childhood friend, Rani, is a good case in point.) I credit this in part to moving around a lot in a Navy family, both as a child and as an adult.

I have almost always been able to find value in each person I meet, even if I don't necessarily agree with them about one thing or another (or a lot of things...) I realize that this is what makes it difficult for me when someone cuts me out of their life. Where I accept differences and disagreements as a natural part of being in relationships with others, some people feel more comfortable cutting out those people who rub them the wrong way or present a different perspective or point of view. Not everyone wants to bridge the gap, but rather prefer to burn the bridge. I have always found this difficult to accept. I prefer to have a conversation and clear the air, because I value people in my life. I realize that we, all of us, when confronted with a difficult relationship, are often responding to an aspect of ourselves we see in others. We choose to acknowledge that aspect of ourselves and, in doing so, accept it in both us and them; or, we deny relationship with that other, and in doing so, dishonor that part of ourselves.

Funny how a prickly little animal and a book led to this train of thought. Thanks, hedgehog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fashion Matters

So, recently I posted the following photo on Facebook. Supposedly it is meant to illustrate the differences in values of the two women, based on the cost of their outfits.

Understandably, a friend's response was, "WTF difference does it make what they were wearing?" And the answer, of course, should be that it shouldn't matter. And I've been thinking about it ever since. What is the obsession with first ladies' (or potential first ladies) styles, and what difference (if any) does it make?

My brief search on First Lady Fashion (FLF from here on out...) reveals a long history of following what they were wearing. Indeed, society columns 'then and now' made a point of describing in detail the clothing of the ladies of the time at various high society events. Yes,the ladies. Men's fashion really doesn't change that much, although these days men on the red carpet at the Academy Awards do get asked, "Who are you wearing tonight?" Still, it remains true that it's what the ladies are wearing that we really pay attention to.

FLF has a place in history...specifically, the National Museum of American History. But why does it matter? From the NMAH site: "Clothing, especially on mannequins, can give a sense of a person’s physical presence. It helps make even the most distant historical figure feel closer. Clothing and accessories illustrate the personal style of a first lady or the official style of a presidential administration. And they can represent the events to which they were worn—from inaugural balls, state dinners, and public appearances to everyday life in the White House." And political conventions.

Right. And you and I both know that a lot of thought goes into the outfits in FLF, for the very reason that the individual wearing the outfit is representing so much. Which brings me back to the above photo and whether or not it really matters what they were wearing. I say yes. And even though I had a difficult time articulating why it matters at the time the photo was circulating, I knew then and I know now, it matters. Because I know that each individual had a strong say in what they wore, who designed it, what colors would be involved, and what statement they wanted to make. In each case, the image presented is a combined result of personal taste and desired reaction.

Whether we like it or not, fashion matters. Fashion represents cultural and fiscal values. "Fashion is born by small facts, trends, or even politics, never by trying to make little pleats and furbelows, by trinkets, by clothes easy to copy, or by the shortening or lengthening of a skirt." (Elsa Schiaparelli) And in politics, like it or not, FLF matters.

To listen to the story that re-sparked my interest in this topic, click here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Weight

I continue to shake my head at the discordance between me and the ex. Everything I've done since we split has been in the interest of Rebecca's safety and happiness. Yet I continue to be blamed for his lack of involvement in her life, and apparently I've done a bad job of raising her. Despite this, I encourage her to understand that he does love her, he just has a difficult time expressing it in a way that shows he supports her. Unfortunately, she overhears him and his wife discussing me, which upsets Rebecca. She is so frustrated that she has twice now contemplated out loud the idea of cutting ties with him. I do not, of course, encourage this. I want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with her father. I could over-analyze this for days. But the bottom line is I'm watching Rebecca grow further and further apart from her dad, knowing the full while that he blames me (based on my initiating the split), and knowing that all she really wants from him is his support and approval...the very things that he wanted from his own parents growing up and as an adult, and yet never felt he had. I'm at a loss. There's a heaviness in my heart.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Annoyed, or Guilty?

I'll be the first to admit I am hyper-sensitive to noise, especially in an audience situation. It's a curse. However, I'm realizing this isn't just a personal character flaw.

My daughter and I attended La Cage Au Folles at the Kennedy Center last night (wonderful show!) While perusing the program (after waiting as long as possible to take my seat to avoid loud conversations and seat kickings), I came upon the following guidelines for audience etiquette. It was prefaced by a paragraph claiming that American audiences have a particularly bad rep as audience members. I can only cite my own experiences stateside and can't compare to audiences around the world, but would have to agree that the audiences I've been a part of have a lot to learn about respecting the rights of their fellow patrons. Of the following, I believe 50% were 'violated' during the performance last night:

A Gentle Reminder: Audience DOs and DON'Ts

It is always a good time to be reminded of what it takes to be a good audience member. Reprinted below, by permission of Stagebill, Inc. NY, is a list of audience "Golden Rules" which has appeared time and again in various concert/opera programmes. Observance of these rules guarantees a more enjoyable time at the opera or the concert hall.


Here's a refresher course. Please read on, and remember, part of one's pact as an audience member is to take seriously the pleasure of others, a responsibility fulfilled by quietly attentive (or silently inattentive) and self contained behavior. After all, you can be as demonstrative as you want during bows and curtain calls.


1. Go easy with atomizer; many people are highly allergic to perfume and cologne. (This one was particularly evident last night, and the mixture of scents was at times overpowering!)

2. If you bring a child, make sure etiquette is part of the experience. Children love learning new things. (Not a problem at this show, but often...yes.)

3. Unwrap all candies and cough drops before the curtain goes up or the concert begins. (Oy!! Post intermission, the two women next to me each had a candy bar, and ate them slowly, crinkling the wrappers, licking their fingers.

4. Make sure beepers, cellphones and watch alarms are OFF. And don't jangle the bangles. (Didn't hear any ringing or buzzing, but the woman two seats down was looking at her phone at the beginning of the second act, in between bites of her Snickers bar.)

5. The overture is part of the performance. Please cease talking at this point. (Yeah, notsomuch, apparently...)

6. Note to lovebirds: When you lean your heads together, you block the view of the person behind you. Leaning forward also blocks the view. (Same lady with the Snickers bar, kept leaning forward to look through her opera glasses.)

7. THOU SHALT NOT TALK, or hum, or sing along, or beat time with a body part. (At a show like La Cage, some things are a little okay...just don't kick the seat in front of you or block anyone's view!)

8. Force yourself to wait for a pause or intermission before rifling through a purse,backpack, or shopping bag. (Two different ladies behind me got into their purses several times, one needing cough drops -- yes, I always end up sitting in front of a cougher -- and one almost dropped the entire very large bag on my head.)

9. Yes, the parking lot gets busy and public transportation is tricky, but leaving while the show is in progress is discourteous. (Confession: We bolted as soon as we could, but not before the cast appreciation applause ended and the house lights came up.)

10. The old standby: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Apparently they would have me behave as if I were at a ballgame, not a musical at the Kennedy Center.)

All this to say that whenever possible, I am buying box seats from now on. Although, at a performance of Anne last December, a woman one box over was enthusiastically enjoying a bag of chips during the second act of this one-woman show. And I glared, several times. She finally put them away.


© 1997 Stagebill , Inc.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

God Bless the Moon...

As I noticed the moon greeting us this morning, and the sun just beginning to make its appearance, I commented to Rebecca that this has been one of the prettiest Januarys I can ever remember experiencing in terms of celestial views. The sunrises, sunsets, and recent fullness of the moon have had me looking more often towards the light. And that full moon this morning reminded me of the mockingbird who, in it's zeal for life and living it to the fullest, spreads its joy into the darkest hours and on through to the light of day. We can learn so much about living life through nature.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Steps brisk and breaths quick,
The snow whispers soothingly,
Thoughts swirl like flakes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Bloggers

This is nothing more than a sharing of what I think is very important writing. This is the importance of words. Of sharing words in blogs. Of breaking silences and unburdening our hearts and minds. This is why I write. And why I read what is written.

Many suffer alone, but we don't have to. Depression and anxiety still carry a stigma. I know that I often feel pressure to be up, out there, happy, and notice that most people just want to hear that I'm fine and feeling better. It isn't always a simple "snap out of it" fix, and it's important that others know that. Anyhow, I'm grateful for blogs like this, and this. Very, very grateful.