Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Balls in the air...

I follow a few blogs and notice that I'm not the only one who finds it hard to sit down and write during this festive and busy season.  I either don't have much to say or I just don't have the energy to say it.  I'm betting the latter.  My mind has just been overwhelmed this year-end.  By intensity at work.  By seasonal parental duties.  By social gatherings.  By a renewed relationship.  By travel.  By thoughts of the new year and what I want to accomplish.   There has been some stress, yes.  And lots of really good, too.  But LOTS is the key word.  I can't even blog about it with any sense of what I want to say.  I'm just too jumbled.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Full Circle

Another company holiday party has come and gone.  I celebrated the season with others from my company at the Portland City Grill and it was a great time, with really delicious food and fantastic views of Portland from the 30th floor of  Bancorp Tower.  It's always fun to put on some fancy clothes and sit down for an elegant meal with the wonderful people I've worked with for the past three and a half years at Axium.  They are just delightful folks who collaborate well and share a passion for excellence and a commitment to our clients' success.  I guess I can be a bit of a sap, but I genuinely like just about every single person at Axium, and it never ceases to amaze me how warm I feel toward everyone during this time of the year when we take time to celebrate together.  It's fun to meet spouses and girlfriends, dates, life partners and friends of the people I spend so many hours a week with.  I like getting a chance to know my colleagues better by meeting and sharing conversation with their loved ones, and, well, I'm just a very social person at times.

Tonight I had my sweetheart with me, just as he's been with me at the last two holiday parties Axium's hosted.  This is not an unusual occurance at all.  Meeting and greeting my co-workers and friends is becoming old hat for him, I think, and people are definitely more familiar with him.  But I tell you what - three really must be a charm, because I felt uncommonly at peace and complete at this third party we've come to arm in arm.  Gone is the self-consciousness of showing up with someone new, like I did at our first party.  And I don't want to think too much about our conflicted hearts at last year's party, as we had reached an unpleasant and painful crossroads in our relationship.  It was a moment which marked the beginning of the end for that part of our relationship.  Though we remained close friends, we did part ways as a couple shortly after that holiday event last year.  We're fortunate to have found our way back to each other recently, armed with hindsight, personal reflection and growth, and a deep appreciation of each other that never really went away.

As I dressed and put on makeup tonight, feeling sparkly and full of happy anticipation for the night's events, my thoughts kept drifting to how alienated we had become a year ago, when our communication started missing and a rift grew between us.  I was and am keenly aware of the significance of this anniversary of sorts, but I am also very aware and very thankful for the growth we've both experienced since then.  I knew tonight would be a very different night than it was last year.  Tonight was very, very special.  For me, it felt like the closing of a circle - a circle protecting the peace, love and gratefulness I feel sharing my life with this darling man.  I'm no longer nitpicking, or resisting, or hiding any part of myself.  My heart is fully open, and I feel very much at home and contented.  It feels so good to finally be here.  Tis the season to give and recieve, and I feel I finally know how to do both of these things right.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Tonight at home with my children I  found the antidote to last night's frustrations.  I picked them up from daycare and came home to a relatively clean house and a kitchen pantry stock full of groceries.  I tossed penne pasta with feta cheese and sauteed garlic, and then added kalamata olives, diced tomatoes and baby spinach.  It's a meal we all really like and it was so nice to sit down at the table with my family to enjoy good food and pleasant conversation.  For some reason every one of my children graciously helped me clean up after dinner.  There was not one word of dissent.  We then looked at their work and art from school and hung a few samples.  They are now listening to a cd of Christmas songs, which a kindly gentleman handed to me as a gesture of the season when I stopped last Friday afternoon to grab a burger on my way to the coast.  They are playing in the room next to where I sit here posting this blog entry.  I hear no bickering, wailing or tattling.  I see no tears or angry scowls.  There is just a happy peace punctuated with an occasional fit of giggles. 

It could have been very different.  At one point, just after we got home and I started dinner, there were some rumblings and the bickering was starting, and I felt my ire rising.  I was about to start ranting about their behavior even before it had gotten really bad, but I remembered what I wrote last night - about how my demeanor did nothing to contribute to peaceful feelings in the house - and that's all it took for my better parenting nature to kick in.  Thankfully.  I used a calm voice and some persistance and managed to get their full attention, so I could talk to them about courtesy and patience, and how we all need work on our tone with each other.  I'm sure that the much better night's sleep I got the night before helped me stay calmer, but I know that calm is what is needed.  And as Mom, I have to set that example.



Things didn't stay perfectly peacful all night.  They behaved like children at bedtime and I allowed myself to get frustrated.  Such is life.  I'll keep striving for more harmony, and they'll keep growing up.  And frankly, so will I.

I firmly believe that the people and situations which challenge us most, are the very things which give us the opportunity to grow and be better people, if we only try.

Your leadership is showing!

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

My hat's off to Nancy Pelosi this morning.  She has rejected a Senate plan to include amendments to the Patriot Act in a larger Pentagon funding bill.  One thing I fully expected to see gone in this administration are the assaults to our civil liberties in that affront to our democracy, The Patriot Act. I'm saddened by President Obama's quiet support of renewing the current Patriot Act,  but surely relieved to see a strong stand by our Speaker of the House.

Go here to see the story at Politico.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grumble, grumble...

Today's been quite a day.  I had so many firms lined up to move forward today, yet, not a deal came in.  People are needing "one more thing," or someone is out of the office unexpectedly or I just don't reach my contact on the phone.  I know many of these deals will close, but they're making me sweat it. 

When I got home, I had a hard time dealing with the kids.  Annie was acting out and Evan was whining and the living room and kitchen were both a mess.  I wish their dad would see the chaos building when he's here watching them in the afternoons.  Frankly I just want to get them back in daycare.  At least then they won't be home turning it into a disaster area before I get there.  And really,  I'd rather fork out all that money than deal with him anymore.

But, anyway, I was just not patient with them tonight, and it wasn't all their fault, for sure.  I was just cranky tonight.  I had to go shopping for groceries, and that's never all that fun with all three kids in tow.  My attitude made it worse.  Not getting enough sleep last night didn't help, I'm sure.  I need to take care of that deficit.  I'm sliding into the sheets just as soon as I  finish typing this post.

Right about now.

Sunday at the Beach

Despite the cold, mostly gray weather this past Sunday, I felt like visiting the beach.  My sweetheart indulged me, and we headed out from Astoria to Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast.  We both shot lots of photos, he with his Sony DSLR, and me with the little digital Olympus he gave me a couple of years ago.  It was cold and blustery out, but I had a lot of fun, and quickly forgot about the weather once I started playing.  Here's a bit of what I saw and captured:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I did tremble

under your long absent and familiar caress.

Purple fire seared my forgetful veins

and spiraled toward my naked and solicitous heart.

Flowers blossomed from my barren lips

and feasted happily on your sunshine.

They bloomed for a long vermillion moment

before wilting in the heat of our unquenched desire,

which I banked,

like a simmering coal

against the Winter of your indecision.

I tremble now you’ve returned to me -

to my heart laid bare,

my open hearth.

That brilliant ember blazes anew,

and I tremble.

I quake.

Do fan the fire,


but not to ash.

Fan the fire, my Love,

but make it last.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Making Hay!

It's definitely the time of year for me to bring in a bunch of business and today I've kicked things off in my territory with a $42K software sale to a firm in Seattle.  My target market, to boot! I've got 3 more committed firms, 2 more who are looking really good and and a few extra "maybe"s.  Things are finally lining up after a few lean weeks, and lots of nagging worry.   Things can get stressful in sales, especially when you really think about how much rides on you bringing in new revenue, but when it starts coming in, it is a blast!  I especially love it when my new client is so excited about moving forward.  Tells me I've done a thorough job of helping them through the evaluation process. 

Woo Hoo - bring it on!  It's time to CLOSE!


I'm inspired by so much in the past few days:

A quiet drive alone though the coast range with a bright blue Winter sky on the verge of change. 

A voice of astonishing clarity and honesty, singing poignant songs about love and kindness in a small room filled with open hearts and grateful ears. 

A lunchtime meal in an obscure cafe whose flavors exploded delightfully in my mouth, while a busy chef smiled from across the room a few feet away.

A collaboration between artists who stretched themselves, and gave us a fun peek into their lives and friendship.

Evocative photographs from electronic blogs as well as physical gallery walls, which have stirred my emotions and make me want to get out and shoot again with new equipment and fresh eyes.

A simple invitation to sing in a performance setting.

Any of these could be the basis of an entry here.  These are sights, sounds and actions which have moved me to consider what I want to share with the world and how I want to share it.  It's been a long time since I've made linoleum prints.  I like doing that.  Maybe I'll make one for my Christmas cards this year.  And maybe I'll finally invest in that new DSLR and learn what I need to learn to be able to make the pictures I want to make.  Maybe I'll actually say yes to that offer to perform, too.  I so love singing.  Or maybe I'll just find time to do one thing with more commitment than I've made to it before.

I'm overwhelmed by it all as much as inspired.  So much to explore and express, with so little time.  At least I'm writing something down in this moment before the impending rush of the work-week.  Something I can come back to when I have the time and need a spark.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mid-Week Stream of Consciousness

I've not been one to use the term "hump day."  There's nothing wrong with it, really, and I certainly understand the little lift you get at the end of the day on Wednesday when you realize that you're on the downhill slope of your work week.  It's just that it's not a particularly elegant phrase, and it suggests, ever so subtley you are unhappy being at work.  I'll never claim to prefer work to play, but I actually do like my job.  Some days are hard, like today when nearly every call I make, I hear "no" or "we've decided that we need to wait till mid 2010."  It's starts to feel like I'm swimming in mud.  But then, all it takes is just one little opening to have an exchange of information, and I feel so much better.  I had a great call today with someone I've not been able to get traction with in the past.  Turns out he's been extremely busy because his business partner was out with a back surgery.  He didn't even have time to talk with me until today!  But when we did talk, it was a comfortable, valuable conversation, which helped me understand his business, the culture there, and his personal goals.  Made my whole day!

I like connecting with people, and getting to understand what makes them tick and what will make them more successful and content in their jobs.  It's truly fun.  And people like talking to me.  That makes me feel good.  I believe I put them at ease, and they trust me to have their best interests at heart - and I do.  Problem is sometimes they like me so much that they disappear on me!  I say that because sometimes a client, to avoid having to tell me "no" when something changes in their circumstances and their company can't move forward with a software purchase, they just drop out of the picture.  We could have been smack in the middle of the software evaluation with me facilitating all sorts of demos and getting their questions answered, and then, BOOM, I can't get them on the phone for weeks and they don't reply to my emails.  I'd really rather they just directly tell me what's going on.  I can take it if they have to say no.  It won't hurt my feelings.  What it will do is tell me what their concerns are, and will help me know what I need to be doing for them, even if that means folllowing up with them in a few months.

Come to think of it, I like direct communication in all aspects of my life.  I've never been comfortable simply hinting at something.   If I have a question, I ask.  And I ask directly.  I don't beat around the bush or drop hints, or any other passive type nonsense.  Please. I like it when people are direct with me, too.  And if something seems to be bothering someone, I don't try to guess what it might be, and assume I've done something or just avoid them.  I ask them to talk to me - to tell me what's on their mind.  I can't guarantee we can immediately or ever solve the problem, but I can be pretty certain that it won't solve itself.  When I was a younger, less confident, less experienced woman, I approached certain problems with certain types of people in an indirect way, either trying to be "nice" or because I was afraid of conflict with someone, but no more.  I've grown quite comfortable with expressing myself, and asking what's going on with the people I care about.  No...life's to short to take action or remain inactive because of assumptions.  Problems can't be solved or even simply considered if they are avoided.  I've been too blunt a few times, and I'm often clumsy, but my intent is good and people who know me usually know my heart, since I'm so open with it.  They know I mean well, and if they don't, they're being held up by their own fears. 

I process my own problems by talking about them.  Sometimes too much.  It's one of the reasons I'm blogging now.  I need to process externally, but I've learned that not everything needs to be talked to death, especially if I really already know the answer and just need to reaffirm.  So I'm writing to get it out of my head.  Hopefully that process will help me develop my writing voice as a byproduct!

But anyway, it is that day...that mid-week wonder, which signals the approach of the weekend.  And I'm going to have a very nice weekend, indeed.  I'm getting out of Portland for a change of scene!  Friday here I come!

Thinking of Granny

 Granny and me in 1967

Being the first born child of my parents, and the first grandchild on either side of my family, I was rather doted on for a few years as a child, but noone was more nuturing and attentive to me growing up than my paternal grandmother.  I won't mince words;  she spoiled me silly.  I remember with clarity the way she would smuggle me sweets after my mother had told me I couldn't have any.  Actually, she only tried to be sneaky about it, but she was never very subtle as she scooted sideways past me, dangling the forbidden candy from her finger tips for me to snag as she loudly whispered, "Andrea, here!"  I was charmed;  my mother, not so much!

While Granny got more even-handed, and little less willing (just a little!) to contradict my parents as I grew older, she never stopped making me feel very, very loved.  She read to me constantly, and she also told me stories from her Southern Louisiana childhood where she grew up in a big Catholic family with twelve brothers and sisters.  My favorite story, though, which I still ask her to tell,  was of how she met my grandfather when he was a young pilot at the start of WWII.  Granny worked for at the Louisiana Governor's office and, social butterfly and latter-day Southern belle that she was, she knew lots of "girls."   She was asked to organize a dance at the Governor's Mansion for the Army Air Corp officers who were in town.  By all accounts the event was a huge success and there was dancing and and a few romances blossomed, including my grandparents'. According to Granny, the trim and handsome young lieutenant from Idaho fell in love with her at first sight, of course.  She never forgets to tell me what a good looking couple they were.  "And I was the first Sugar Cane Festival Queen, you know," she reminds me regularly.  I love the twinkle in her eye as she ruminates about her lovely youth.

A classic comfort grandmother, Granny used to love to bake for us, and make fudge and cookies and sack lunches for our hikes in the mountains around she and Granddad's home in Durango, Colorado.  I have very fond memories of hunting for the hidden fudge at Christmastime.  It was hidden, because my rascally grandfather had quite the sweet tooth, and she wanted there to be enough left for everyone on Christmas Day.  Granddad always helped us hunt, and we would usually always find it.  Granny would be hopping mad (which could be a whole other very funny story) when she found it all half eaten, but she would smile and could never be mean to us.  She was just a sweetheart, always looking for ways to keep her loved ones happy.  For many years, any visit I made to Louisiana and her house, included at least one tunafish casserole, because I always liked it so much as a child.

Because of her sweetness, I could never, ever tell her that I did not like going to school with curlers in my hair, when I lived with her that 5th grade year in Durango - but I did like how pretty it would look after I took them out at school.  I couldn't tell her that I couldn't stand the Easter dress with the stiff, itchy high collor she made for me that year either.  I just grinned and wore it.  And when she insisted on making my prom dress my junior year - a frilly, pink confection, out of sync with the styles of the time, I bit my tongue.  I look back at pictures of me in that dress and I always smile at the love that was sewn into that dress.  It was slightly too long, but it was really, actually pretty sweet looking.  I got glowing compliments on it from a boy I liked, who wasn't even my date.  I remember she made it for me in just 2 days, because I got asked to Prom at the last minute.  And she was so excited and happy to do it.

She was also happy to teach me how to knit and to play solitaire.  She patiently taught me how to iron a shirt the right way, how to fold fitted sheets (no - I still can't do it!) and how to properly set a table for dinner.  I think of her every Thanksgiving, as I show my little girls where the utensils go, and tell them why the knife edge faces inward.  It's a small tradition that matters deeply to me.  I cling to those lessons, like some might cling to child's first dress or some other sentimental object.  They are remnants of some of the best parts of my upbringing.  My grandmother has been one of the most solid and supportive fixtures in my life.  She was always on my side, and she means the world to me.

Today, Granny is close to 90 years old, and has recently had to move to an assisted living facility.  She's not happy about it.  Ever the social butterfly, she is still grousing about having her car and license taken away a few years ago, because she is no longer a safe driver.  She liked being able to go visiting her remaining family down in New Iberia, Louisiana.  She liked the conversation and the engagement.  She likes getting out and connecting with people.  Losing her mobility has been hard for her.  Losing her short term memory to the advancement of dementia has been even harder.  She wants to be in her own home, taking care of herself, but at this point, she's so confused, she doesn't really know where that home is.  Some days she tells me that she'll be heading back to Durango, to be home with Granddad again.  She tells me stories that don't line up with what I know, but I listen and answer the same questions I've answered several times in a ten minute conversation about how my kids are and where I'm living.

Once, not too long ago, I was on the phone with Granny describing some of the things my daughter, Stella, likes to do and how well she does in school, and Granny exclaimed, "Oh!  She sounds just like Wayne's daughter!  She was a smart little girl!"  The funny part of that is that I actually am Wayne's daughter.  I'm Wayne's only daughter.  I smiled and said, "Yes, Granny, I did pretty well.  You made sure of it!"  A little embarrassed, she recovered by saying, "Oh - of course I know this is you, Andrea." 

Granny has always been able to make me feel special, which is why I was so happy for my oldest little girl, Stella, to meet and spend time with her two Summers ago.  She spent three weeks in Louisiana with my brother, right near where Granny was living at the time in her cute little townhouse.  Now, Stella didn't get to know Granny quite the way I did, because so much has changed in her old age, but she was able to share some moments with her and she knows my grandmother's very sweet spirit.  That's important to me, especially now.  Stella understands.  She knows.  That experience combined with the memories I have shared with her have made it possible for Stella to know that is our dear Granny who is the special one.  

Granny and Stella in 2008

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Aha! Moment

It occurred to me in one of my spare half-moments this chilly morning as I hurried and hustled 3 kids out of the door to catch the school bus at 7:37, that there is a reason that most of what little creative writing I've done in the past 10 years has been poetry.  I know it should be obvious, but it's time - or the lack of it.

I only have time for poems!  Poems are quicker for a number of reasons, not just because they are often short.  (At least mine are.)  It's also easy to build out the structure of a poem. I have no problem jotting down a word or two that falls from my psyche and build that out into a more complex, but still concise expression of  thought and feeling - even at a later point.  I only need a few words to get going.  I play with those words -linking them and adding others, turning them around and exchanging them - until I find I'm expressing my heart's intent. 

Poetry can be so elegant.  I think it's because of the flexibility of the form.  You aren't tied to grammar conventions or traditional meanings.  Word combinations can explode on the page in way not seen in prose - distilling the essence of powerful emotions and thought.  You're essentially bottling meaning right there on the page. 

Because with poetry I'm freer also from the conventions of linear thought, I can hold on to the stream of consciousness, even when my 6 year old drills into my ear with a staccato "Mom...Mom...Mom...MOM!  I'm trying to ask you something!  OK...Can I have a cookie?"  After yet another sugar negotiation with this persistant little badger, which can sometimesgo on for the better part of at least a half hour - I can still come back to my jumble of portent words and phrasings, and pick up where I left off, because they immediately evoke what made me want to write in the first place.  I get back fast.  If I were working on an essay or novel, I'd be done for the day.  I just don't have the stretches of uninterrupted time I personally need for that kind of plotting and planning!

Maybe if I keep after this, writing what I can, when I can, I'll get to the point where I can get a flow of ideas onto the page.  I'll keep writing, even when I hate what I see, because I know that's the only way to oil the gears.  Someday, I may find that I'm several pages into some idea, and turn around looking for that little cookie wrangler, only to find I have time to spare.  I'm in no hurry.


Blinded with delusions,
you lash and cling with
grasping tentacles of greedy
unsatiated want.

Standing ignorantly on our tongues, unconcerned
with how you crush or what
you destroy,
you mangle the truth.
You murder your own soul.
You wonder why
you hurt.

You hurt.

Turning away,
I shield my eyes from
your personal devastation.
Your desperate, insatiable longing
consumes you
like a ravenous fire.

suffocated and piteous,
and wretched from your thrashings,
is afraid to come near.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Right As Rain

I feel so right - so decidedly at peace.  It is wonderful to trust.  To know.  To find I have the capacity to go more deeply into my own heart and freely share what's there. To know I will be recognized and understood. And to find that I understand much more than before. I want to give, and then give some more!  I have been washed clean in the showers of forgiveness and understanding. I feel deep gratefulness to finally walk again along this path of exquisite potential.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Louisiana Revival - Football Style!!

I'm happy for my old home state of Louisiana.  They've been through a lot of no good in recent years, with the big devastation coming from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans of course.  But this year's undeafeted New Orleans Saints football organization has given them something to cheer about!  What a team. What coaching. They are exciting!  Led by Drew Brees, the best quarterback in football today, both in skill and leadership ability, this team is tight.  They play with passion AND precision - and they never give up.  Today a little luck helped them out, but they were the ones to stand up and make it happen when the opportunity presented itself - with a 33-30 win in overtime over the Washington Redskins.  GEAUX Saints GEAUX!

My family is all jazzed up about the Saints, and we're celebrating even though we're far apart.  We're connecting on Facebook to cheer them on and give each other virtual hugs.  It's thrilling and fun and downright healing in some ways.  This Saints season is a nice reminder of what is positive about Sports.  It's cathartic to watch your team fight for a win, and play till the end, even when things are looking bad.  It inspires hope and teaches endurance.  No, it's not life or death.  But I understand the cathartic, inspirational impact it can have on people's lives.  Besides - it's fun!

Walking Up

Step over step

Breathe in

Breathe out

Heartbeat after beat

Rise higher

Go deep

Mist whispers thin

Mossy tendrils

Moist heat

Stirring the sky

Planting my feet

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dream for my mother

I'd been here many times, but this day, with it's silvery light and sparkly October warmth was special.  Mom was here on a visit from Louisiana, and we spent the last days of her visit on the Oregon coast.  I'll never forget her reaction to this magical place.  She fell in love.  I think she might have been a lighthouse keeper in a former life, she was so drawn to the ocean.  "I could stay here forever, " she said. 

Sometimes I imagine a special lighthouse just for her.  One full of good books, warm fuzzy socks, French roast coffee, and a solid, comfy old rocking chair facing the view.  She'd be passin' a good time, no?   


So many times I've started a journal with the best intentions of writing regularly "from here on out." So many times, I've stopped within days. I tend to have an overachieving internal editor, so I can tend to spend more time backspacing and deleting than writing. Still, I long to capture thoughts and feelings in a place where I can refer back and potentially see a progression of thought or evidence of some emotional growth. Sometimes I just want to document. I want to testify to the beauty of a glorious sunrise, or tell the universe how clever and beautiful my children are, or how challenging it is to raise them up. I want to capture ideas, share pithy quotes and explore my dreams. I want to write letters I may never send, in order to free my mind and cut the chatter. I want to develop my voice. I'm trying again here.