Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Frank Abagnale at Dillon Lecture Series

Frank Abagnale spoke at this morning's Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College. He is an author and consultant for security, and also the subject of a movie, Catch Me If You Can, where he is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. It is based on a book he wrote detailing his life story.

At age 16 he ran away from home, and began to commit various crimes of fraud in order to bankroll his life. He traveled all over the world, impersonating a Pan Am pilot, then pretended to be a doctor. Needless to say, it was an interesting time in his life.

No one associated with the movie has ever met him, but he was happy with the product. He mentioned Spielberg said he didn't want to make the movie to glorify what Abagnale did during those years, but what he has done since then.

At age 21 Abgnale went to prison. Five years later they let him out if he agreed to serve the rest of his term working for the FBI to prevent document fraud, forgery and embezzlement. He remained at the FBI for decades after he was obligated to, and said today he still sees the years of fraud as shameful. He has turned down three pardons from three sitting presidents and credits his wife with changing his life.

During the luncheon, he spoke about security and said credit cards are the safest form of payment one can use. Something really interesting is that he said many kids get their social security numbers stolen because there is no credit reporting for people under 18.

He believes that punishment for fraud and recovery of stolen funds is so rare that prevention is the only viable course of action. He has authored several books, and has many free products on his website about how to protect yourself.


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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Night



I've never been a good sleeper. My mom told me that the first night she brought me home from the hospital I was awake all night and slept during the day.

I've come to believe it has more to do with the night than with sleep. At night I feel inspired. I can get things done. I like the feeling of being alert while everyone else is unconscious. And doing all of that helps me avoid the night. And the night people.

People are different at night. Their darker sides come out in the inky blackness. I don't remember a time when I wasn't uneasy at night, waking at the slightest noise, always alert to what was just out of reach that I couldn't see. I don't know if I acquired this fear before I can recall the precipitating event, or if I came into the world with it already deep-seated. Regardless, it is there.

When the morning light begins to creep into my room, sleep can easily overtake me. I don't think I'm alone in this. No one has insomnia at 7 a.m.

Maybe eventually the darkness and I will reach an understanding. In fairness, it's not the darkness of the night, but the darkness of those in it that concerns me. I'm not sure there's an answer for that.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Noticing



So much of life is about noticing. We go through life not paying attention to much of anything. We numb ourselves with busyness, so we don't have to think what's happening around us - or, God Forbid, within us. If we did pay attention we'd find a lot happening around us that's worthy of our notice.

For example, when I say "Sean Penn has been working in Haiti since the earthquake," you think - "oh, yeah, that's right." It's something we've all heard here or there along the way, and we thought, "that's cool," and we moved on. Into our busyness. We didn't process that. We didn't think about that. We didn't contemplate that.

Why is he there? What motivated him? What happened that caused him to go be there, as opposed to just sending money? Why? How did that come to pass? How is it working? What spoke to him about that?

I confess I don't know the answers to those questions, but I'm sure there is something profound in one or more of them. And no doubt something any one of us can use in our own lives.

But, we forgot to notice, to pay attention, to contemplate. We added the fact that Sean Penn is devoted to Haiti relief to our mental rolodex and let it end there. We didn't notice it. We just cataloged it.

It occurs to me that the real lessons of life lie in noticing, in paying attention, in processing. All around us are opportunities to learn from our fellow humans. But we have to step outside our own prison of busyness in order to notice, then to ask, then to understand. And, finally, to apply to our own lives. It all begins with the noticing.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quote of the Day




“We all live in a tragicomic situation, a life that is in part absurd simply because it is not of our own making. We are born into a disordered world, into a family we did not choose, into circumstances we would have had somewhat improved, and we are even called by a name we did not select."

                                                   --- Sheldon B. Kopp

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Craig Ferguson and Ted Alexandro in Wichita Kansas at the Orpheum Theatre



We went to see Craig Ferguson in Wichita tonight at the Orpheum Theatre. He was wonderful, as you might guess. I watch him every night and just adore him. There were four of us - Greg, Mia, me and Pam - and we were lucky enough to be in the front row, so had a great view.

The show started with Craig making an announcement while the stage was dark. He commented on Orpheus (you know he's well-read if you're a fan), and made a few remarks, and then introduced Ted Alexandro. You may have seen him on the show before. He did a short set and was really funny.



Then Craig did his set and had us all laughing pretty much constantly.

We had waited outside beforehand, hoping to get a photo with him for my blog, and also for Ace Jackalope's blog. That was not to be.

But we had also made a banner and as he finished his set, we unrolled it so he could see it. He looked at it just as he was leaving the stage. I took this last night in my living room.



In a minute or so he came back out and said, "I had to come back to see what your sign said."

He asked what a Jackalope was and then invited Mia, who was holding the jackalope, up on stage to take a photo. He visited with her a couple of minutes, hugged her and posed with Ace Jackalope.



Like me, Mia is a major fan, so I'm very happy for her. It's sooooo cool she got a photo with him. So very cool!

All in all a great night of fun at The Orpheum. They have some amazing shows coming up, including BB King and Los Lobos. I wish I could just go to everything!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Coconut Pie and Creative Sisterhood and Pie Day



Monday was pie day. So I made pie. Coconut pie.



What else should one do on pie day but make pie and pie crust?



Well, eat pie.

I did that too.

Fortunately, Pie day coincided with my Creative Sisterhood gathering. I didn't even know there was a pie day when we picked the date for our gathering so it seemed obvious I needed to make pie for our dessert that night.



Here are some photos from the day. The recipe is included. (And, yes, that is my mom's recipe box - or what was left of it after her vigorous cleaning with oven cleaner. Yes, she was much "cleaner" than I am.)



At some point when I was a kid, I typed a bunch of my mom's recipes. I wish now I had the ones in her handwriting that these replaced, although I have many others in her writing.

I don't know how old I was, but obviously old enough to be learning to type, but not old enough to know how to spell "vanilla." It was grade school, I'm guessing.



This, children, was before we had the internet. We didn't get little squiggly lines under words when we misspelled them. I know, barbaric - but true.

Now... Go forth and make pie.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Top of the Fridge - Cool Stuff




This is why I go to thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and other places where they sell cool stuff. When I cleaned the top of the fridge the other day I decided it was time to organize all my trays I've picked up over the years.

They were just stacked on top of the fridge, along with the hammered aluminum ice bucket I bought for $2 at a junk store. Yes. $2. I use it maybe once or twice a year when I serve iced tea instead of hot tea at Creative Sisterhood. The rest of the time it just looks pretty.

You can also see the edge of an old metal bread box I bought at a flea market. That's where I keep the extra garbage bags.

Not too long ago I bought this plate holder, although I didn't know that's what it was at the time. I've had it on my desk holding magazines, but decided this was a better use for me $1.50 investment.

I realized after putting things up on top of the fridge that everything up there came from some of my second hand shopping excursions. I love things that have stood the test of time.

I'm a sentimental mush it seems. I guess that's not really news.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Sorrow Tree




I love the story of The Sorrow Tree. On the day of judgement each person is allowed to hang their sorrows on the tree. Then all are invited to walk around it and choose a pain other than their own. In the end, of course, each person chooses the sorrow with which they came.

I understand the point of this - we should all appreciate the life experiences we are given - they help make us who we are. I understand the wisdom of "walking a mile in someone else's shoes" mentality. I get that.

However, it also seems it would be beneficial to hang our sorrows on the tree, and let the vultures pick them apart until they are rendered into nothingness. I would never be so bold as to question the Zaddick, but maybe we could adapt the story of The Sorrow Tree for modern times.

Maybe in this time before Judgement Day arrives we could hang our sorrows on the tree and leave them behind. Maybe Mother Nature could have her way with them. Perhaps we could walk away from our own sorrows, as well as everyone else's. Maybe we could just let all sorrows be carried away on the winds, disbursed to the four corners of the Earth, never to be reassembled for anyone to have to carry again.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Forgiveness and Violets


"Forgiveness 
is the fragrance
that the violet sheds 
on the heel 
that has crushed it."
          --- Mark Twain

I love this quote. It sums up forgiveness so beautifully.

I've learned forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. I've let go of a lot of anger in my life as I've forgiven various people.

But there is still one person I need to forgive. He has never asked for it. Perhaps he doesn't even realize he should, although the sheepish way he acts around me on the rare occasions I see him, makes me believe differently. But at this point, that is not going to happen. So, I need to let go of that.

Until the last few months I didn't even realize I still harbored anger toward him until I heard people talking about him, telling stories of sharing pleasant times with him. And the bile inside me rose. How dare they have good experiences with him? Aren't they on "my side?" How dare he be enjoying life.

Of course, all of that is completely ridiculous. He has been enjoying life for years, probably with little or no thought to what transpired between us. Other people don't know what happened, and even if they do, it's not what happened to them. For there is the truth of every situation - it is my story, not theirs. It's not even our story - it's my story.

And that means only I have the power to change it. To rewrite it. To let go of the anger. To give myself the gift of forgiving him.

At times it has been so easy for me to forgive things I never thought I could. For some reason, this one lingers. But I must figure that out and let it go and move on.

I need the sweet smell of violets...

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

I puzzle even myself


Yesterday I decided I was going to work on the house a bit. I starting hanging up the clean clothes. Then the next thing I knew I was sewing on a missing button. Then I got back to hanging up clothes.

Then a friend called about lunch. I hadn't seen her in a while so we met at Roy's. We were still there 2 1/2 hours later. I thought I'd just run into one of my favorite thrift stores for a minute. So, I got home about 3 hours after I left.

I opened the fridge for a drink and noticed it really needed cleaning out. So, I went to pull the drawer out of the bottom and it wouldn't come without rolling the fridge out. But I had to take everything off the top of the fridge to do that. Then I had the fridge out so thought I should clean under it.

Then I noticed how dirty the curtains were behind in. So, they had to go into the wash - with multiple cycles with various cleaning products, which brought me back to the pile of clean laundry on top of the dryer.

The curtains are still soaking in the washing machine. And I'll have to roll the fridge out again to rehang them, once they're dry and ironed.

So... what I really accomplished was sewing on a button and cleaning under the fridge.

I think this may be why my house is always a mess.


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Friday, January 20, 2012

Lips

Someone asked me recently if I had had my lips done. This is the second or third time someone has asked me this.

I'm not sure if this is a compliment, as in, "Gosh, your lips are so pretty."
Or if it's the opposite, as in, "Gosh, your lips look disfigured, what did you do to them?"

The answer is, "No, I have not had my lips done, nor can I ever imagine a time when that answer would change."

I think:
1. this involves sticking needles in your lips
2. this does not sound fun to me
3. most people who have their lips done end up looking like they've been attacked by bees and the swelling is extreme

And, finally, if I had the money to spend on plastic surgery there are about a dozen things I'd rather have done.

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Writing, Writing, Writing

{EAV:d751c10d68df9a7b}I've been writing a lot the last couple of weeks, so haven't had much writing oomph left for the blog. I just finished another magazine piece tonight. It's a fun one - about pie!


I've learned a lot about how restaurants make pies en masse, and I'm all the more sure I don't want to work in a restaurant. But, I sure like to have good pie in them. I've uncovered a few more places I need to visit. Obviously. Research.

Accidentally, and unrelated to the story, I also discovered that January 23 (Monday) is Pie Day. I didn't know there was a Pie Day, other than 3.14, which is Pi Day. Regardless, it seems pie should be consumed on Monday. That might be a good time to go visit one of these restaurants.

Other than writing, and trying to catch up on some other things I've gotten behind on, I'm searching for health insurance. It is such a difficult thing for me. I want to be responsible and have some but so far all I've found costs almost as much as my mortgage and has a $10,000 deductible. I'm just not sure I can justify or afford that. I don't know what I'll do, but I'm assuming the path will become clear for me.

Well, it's almost 1:30 in the morning and I need to be up early in the morning so I should try to get a little sleep. I've been so mentally occupied lately that I've not been sleeping well, and that's not good either. Hopefully soon I will have everything a bit more under control and be able to rest.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA Petition




Today's "Google Doodle," as they call their imaginative logo artwork when they note various things, is the above black box. If you click on it you go to https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction and you can sign a petition to Stop SOPA.

Do that.

If you are reading this, you probably like the internet.

If you like the internet, you are against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), even if you don't know what it is.

The short version is that it's ill-designed legislation to address a real problem - piracy; that will have far-reaching effects for people like you and me who are just doing our ordinary daily business on the internet and don't happen to be copying movies for distribution around the world.

So, take a minute and sign this petition - it's easy - your name, email and zip code. The zip code is so they can send it to your representative.

If you hear about websites "going dark," they are protesting this. No one is saying it's bad to stop piracy, this is just a very bad way to do it. This would have little effect on piracy, but cause tremendous difficulty for the average person who just wants to chat with their friends on Facebook, make a basic website for their business or some other normal thing online.

Hop on over and let your voice be heard: https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction

If you want to do even more, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page. You can enter your zip code and get links to your particular reps. Do both. Make your voice heard.



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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Finally, it is done...



Three years ago at this time I was preparing for surgery. It was all messy and uncertain, but turned out well. I got the wonderful "benign" word, which made Ace Jackalope smile for the first time.

Since then I've been paying medical bills. This weekend I got the last bill from the last one to be paid off. It's from the surgeon who saved my life and my final payment is the left over of $37.19. I decided to pay it on Jan. 27 - the anniversary of the surgery - although it's not due for a few more weeks.

I am so glad to have all of those bills paid. And so thankful they were willing to let me pay monthly all this time. I had health insurance, but with a very high deductible. This office - Associates in Women's Health - was so incredibly kind, as was Heartland Cardiology in Wichita, and others. Via Christi was astonishingly generous and gracious. Some others were just instantly rude and awful. I ended up in the ER in Joplin after surgery and the award for the worst medical experience from that time - from the care received to paying the bill afterward - goes to Freeman Hospital in Joplin. They were just horrid.

But, overall, I was very fortunate - the medical system worked perfectly for me as far as getting care. My own physician, Dr. Wesley, spotted the problem when it might have escaped notice by others. A local surgeon referred me to a specialist in Wichita, saying I needed to be operated on by someone who saw cancer every week, not someone like him who saw it a couple of times a year. Fortunately, although the radiology looked very bad, it was benign. He referred me to Dr. Horbelt, who operated on me at Via Christi in downtown Wichita. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the care I received there. We still refer to it as the "Club Med" of medical care. They were amazing. I wish all hospitals could be run with the same care and attention that Via Christi shows. Stunningly perfect.

It's interesting that this is a pretty emotional experience for me. Not sure why, but it is. Maybe just because it's a finishing of that chapter.

I am a lucky, lucky, lucky girl.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Storytelling is What I Encourage Others To Do




It's all storytelling, you know. That's what journalism is all about.
          --- Tom Brokaw

Storytelling has been a theme in my life the last couple of years. I know I've written about it here many times. Tonight I ran across this quote from Tom Brokaw and it reminded me of a post I'd written recently about this very thing. 

The obvious thing is to think of myself as a story teller, but I realized tonight as I was thinking about it that I'm not so much a story-teller as I am a story-preserver. I seem to find myself in situations where I give other people a chance to tell their stories, where I can help them tell their stories. More directly, I should say I put myself in those situations.

This seems a really valuable thing. Not everyone has the ability to tell their story without help. Not everyone recognizes their story. Maybe this is one of my functions on the planet. 

I'm very excited about a new project that's looming in my life. It would be this exact thing and bring together a number of different skills I have to make it happen. I've wanted to do a project like this for years, and haven't been able to because I didn't have the necessary organizational skills to get it started. Fortunately, this time I have a partner who's wonderful at those sorts of things. We'll see if it all comes together. I'm so hopeful it will work. We shall see!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In Change There is Power




It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. 
                                                  --- Alan Cohen


It was about two and a half years ago that I first found this quote. It was appropriate then because I was just starting a new job. Now that job is part of my past, but the sentiment behind this quote is still pertinent in my life.

I am almost always "embracing the new" in one way or another, it seems. I don't know that it is courageous in my case, it's simply pragmatic. It's much easier to embrace it than to fight it. 

Embracing the new is better than being swept along by the inevitable. And "the new" is often thrilling. So I think I'll open my arms wide, welcome in the new, and be grateful for all the good in my life.

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The Crimson Petal and The White

I just finished reading Michael Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White." I read it for a new book club a friend has started that I've joined. I think it is probably the longest book I've ever read - about 900 pages, but it certainly keeps your interest.

It is set in Victorian England and follows the life of a prostitute as she claws her way from the most humble of beginnings to a different kind of life.

One of the things things I kept thinking as I was reading was, "Hmmm... I think maybe the other people in this book club are smarter than I am." But I now know a lot about contraception in the 1870s in England - not information I ever expected to know. I'm guessing when we meet to discuss the book that people will point out things that I totally missed in my reading.

That's one of the great things about a book club - you read things you never would have picked up on your own, and you get different perspectives on them. I haven't been in a book club for a lot of years so I'm looking forward to this.

One of the funny things about this was I ordered the book while I was visiting my family in rural Kentucky at Thanksgiving. I decided to have it shipped to Kansas. When it arrived, I noticed that it was mailed from a town in Kentucky about an hour from where I was when I ordered it. It probably would have been logical for me to go pick it up. It truly is a small world!

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Courage





"Courage: To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart."


I heard this during a TED Talk by Brene Brown. She said that is the original definition of courage, which makes sense because the word is from the French word for "heart."

When I first heard her say this it jumped out at me. I wonder how many of us can truly tell the story of who we are with our whole hearts. I know I don't do that casually.

Even though I write here almost every day, and it's something anyone with an internet connection can read, I share only a small part of myself. Or so I think. Some friends who are regular readers tell me I share much more of myself than I think and that if you read here regularly you know a lot about who I am and what I think, feel and believe. That may be true. Obviously, they're things I'm comfortable sharing.

Brown's talk is about vulnerability and how essential it is to a feeling of worthiness, and how that is critical for us to feel like we are loved and we belong. In her research, she said what separates the people who have a sense of love and belonging from those who don't, is that they feel worthy of it.

She says we feel a sense of connection as a result of authenticity. She said we have to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen - to believe we are enough - to believe that our vulnerability makes us beautiful - to make connection.

I have been thinking for the past few years that we are less connected with each other all the time. Maybe that's because we're less authentic all the time, too. From the implants in our chins and extensions in our hair, to the loyalty given to the sports teams of schools we never attended and the preference of television shows to real conversation. Maybe this is why people can be close to their family members, but not develop relationships beyond those. After all, our families already know our vulnerabilities so there's not much point in trying to hide them.

I know that I long for meaningful interactions. Perhaps I need to examine closely if I am being vulnerable enough to find them.
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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Opening a Space



I was listening to an interview with Italian historian Alessandro Portelli, and he was talking about oral history interviews. He said, "Think of the interview as opening a space."

That is exactly what it boils down to. The memorable story you get at an interview is rarely the one you went in expecting. Of course, if you have a list of prepared questions and don't venture beyond them, you'll never hear that story.

Just this past week I was interviewing someone and although he was a bit reticent at first, as we talked more he opened up and told me some wonderful stories. The space was open, and he walked into it.

It's quite an extraordinary thing when people tell you their stories. I always view it as a precious moment when people share, and I treat their stories with great respect. What could be more personal than someone's story. A truly generous gift.

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Days

I have been back in Kansas for a couple of days and they have been very, very busy ones. It seems there are always details to attend to in order to keep a life running. Although I try to simplify things like that as much as possible, they pile up nonetheless.

To top it off, there are things I'd like to spend time doing that I haven't yet worked into my schedule. One of the things I want to figure out for 2012 is how to put time into the week for things that fall into the "enjoy life" category.

I feel I'm at a real crossroads, a time of positive change, and I need to be present and aware at all times.
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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Quote of the Day

"The world is rich with messages."
                          --- Elizabeth Lesser

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Finding Spirituality through Art, Nature and Ritual


I recently heard Reverend Ed Bacon say he believes there are three things that help people find spirituality.

  • Nature 
  • Art 
  • Ritual 

All of those are true for me. And I seek more opportunities for all of them constantly. When I think about some of the most meaningful times in my life they have generally involved one or more of these things. 

Although I am not an "outdoors kind of girl," I do find nature a very moving experience. Being in Muir woods on a beautiful morning, sitting by a stream alone one afternoon, being surrounded by the quiet of trees on an all day excursion are all memorable moments.

 I've had a passion for art since I was in college and "discovered" it. I always say I have to have time to "commune with the art," and that's really what it is for me - a time to interact on a deep level with what I'm experiencing. Monet's work impacts me more than other other, I think, although I love all art.

Ritual is part of what I like about Catholicism. Although I'm not Catholic, I do appreciate that the church has preserved rituals for centuries. I have my own rituals for a variety of things and find them a comfort and a grounding process.

All of these things connect me with something larger than my individual life, and I think that's what we're all looking for - a connection. I need more of all of these things in my daily life.
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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year



I spent a large part of yesterday journaling about the year that was passing, and thinking about the year that was coming. Being clear is critical for me. I'm trying to start 2012 with a plan and a purpose. We shall see how the year unfolds.

May 2012 be one of happiness and fulfillment for all of us.

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