Ain’t It Amazing?

Today I …

Looked at pictures of friends enjoying today’s sunrise in the Carribean,
Then looked at a video of friends across town building an igloo.
I chose a movie on my phone, then watched it on my TV.
I took a tour of my daughter’s new apartment in California,
And followed my son on the East coast as he bought groceries.

Even on a day when things aren’t that great, if you really stop and think about it, those things are pretty freaking amazing! Just imagine what your 10 or 12 year old self would think, if they could somehow be transported into the future and could see the everyday magic we take for granted.

One Little Word

Around the first of the year, I (along with 2/3 of the civilized world) usually feel compelled to write a list of resolutions.  A couple of years back, just to be different, I started making that list into a graphic poster and calling it my bucket list. Resolute!

As a rule, two or three things on the list gets accomplished.  I am not sure whether the actual act of writing it down, or just putting it up where I can see it is to credit (or blame) or if the things that got accomplished were just the things that I concentrated on the most.

In 2013 I did exactly two things on that list: Got my passport, and planted a garden. OK, we also had a pretty cool 25th anniversary celebration, even though it wasn’t the “extravaganza” I was envisioning. No, I think I got a little over-zealous in the annual making-of-the-list. What I learned from this though, was that you can’t really give 15+ items the full concentration they need, nor can you foretell the opportunities and setbacks that affect whether or not you even want to accomplish some of those things.

I had one stellar accomplishment in 2013 – Decorating a float for the Rose Parade – and that one wasn’t even on the list! So, when I started thinking about what I wanted to concentrate on this year, I thought about it differently. What one thing did I want to do, or accomplish that I would be able to focus on all year?  And then I read a Facebook post from my inspirational friend Jodee Bock, about One Word.

One Word is a book that basically professes narrowing your focus for the year to concentrate on just one word. This, say authors Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page, allows us to experience “mission and meaning; purpose and passion; strength and significance.” So instead of trying to focus on 15 concepts, or goals, you choose one word – or as the book suggests, one word chooses you – to become your North Star for 365 days.

I got the book, and read it in the 45 minutes the authors said it would take, and then set about the process of opening myself up so the Universe could deliver my One Word unto me.  I waited, and waited, and waited… and waited.

While I was waiting, I made a list of cool words I wanted to associate with throughout 2014.  Words filled with anticipation and mystery like “AND” “STORY” “RIPPLE” “MAGIC.” Words with purpose like “DETOX” “ACCEPT” “SIMPLIFY” “CONNECT.”  Open ended words with more than one meaning like “ALOHA” “NAMASTE” “EFFECT.” But I felt like I was bending the Universe to my own will. My One Word wasn’t finding me – I was picking it, I was cheating.

So then I started thinking about what concepts I would realistically concentrate on, and as silly as it sounds, it came to me.  No, not my word, but a scene from The Big Bang Theory.

In this scene, Penny is giving Sheldon acting lessons, and they start off with Improvisation which she tells him is all about saying YES. This makes perfect sense, and strikes a chord in me. Tina Fey in her book Bossypants, further elaborates, saying Improv is all about saying YES, AND…

I’m all about that, but I’m not going to choose IMPROV as my word. Nor am I going to choose YES, because I’d have to choose YES, AND… and that’s two words. But I felt like I was getting somewhere, I had a direction, I could feel the momentum. The big idea, the concept behind IMPROV was what I wanted, but the word… what was my word?

  • Improvisation is to make things up. Yes… and…
  • I wanted this word to help me make a difference.  Yes, and?
  • Make some changes, make advances… yes, and…

Wait a minute!!! My mother’s answer to anything that was bothering me, whether I was bored, or sad, or confused was to make something – Make a list; make a mess; make a promise; It’s got anticipation, purpose and it’s open ended! There it is! My word is MAKE! So, I made a little button – right there in the sidebar.

Unknown

I’m going to make 2014 the year of MAKE, or of MAKING. Did you make resolutions this year, or what do you think of having one little word be your focus for 2014?

The Modern Empty Nest

It happened this week.

My daughter, my middle child, my 22-year-old, flew the nest.IMG_2103

She, and her boyfriend of 6 months packed everything they owned into a car and drove West to chase their dreams in California.

I know. That sounds sudden. And full of drama. But surprisingly, it’s not. She’s actually following in my footsteps, only she did it better.

I left home at 22 also, but I did it with my fist in the air, middle finger extended. I didn’t care who did or didn’t know where or how I was. I was on my own finally, and all I wanted was my former home in my rearview mirror. Sadly for my parents, my communication with the folks I left behind was at best, spotty, if at all.

Now, thanks to modern digital technology, we’re connected 24/7. No sooner did my daughter’s face and waving hand disappear physically westward beyond my eyesight, they were quickly replaced digitally, by a blinking dot accurately pinpointing her every move on my iDevices, or as she refers to it, Watching The Creeper App.

photoIts really called the Find My Friends app, and it shows you on a map where any of your friends and family who have agreed to be “creeped-on” are. Thankfully, we pre-negotiated the creep agreement well before she left.

With it, we were able to see which roads and freeways they took, and where they stopped to eat, and sleep. It was thrilling! And boring. And nerve-wracking! And comforting.

We saw them veer off to Denver despite the weather warnings in the upper passes. We saw them leave there, then descend into the high deserts, and then we watched them wander the Las Vegas strip. Finally, we saw them negotiate the Los Angeles freeways, and back streets as they visited apartments and houses for rent.

All the while, thanks to being digitally connected, it was like we were ghostly companions in their car. Texts and Facebook picture posts flew back and forth. When the day got long, the little girl that still exists in my grown daughter came out, and lamented that she missed home already. When the sights were strange or amazing, a picture accompanied her text. When they’d finally found the perfect place to live, after traipsing through some sketchy neighborhoods, we’d already looked up the address on Trulia to see the neighborhood statistics, and were able to enthusiastically agree with their decision.

I imagine the shine will wear off rather quickly as my daughter settles into her new life. I’ve already cut back from checking the app constantly, to a mere hundred times a day. She’ll probably turn it off eventually, and leave me wondering, as parents used to do, where or how she is. But in comparison to the way I left home, and thanks to Facebook, Skype, and various other creeper apps, I feel incredibly lucky that she LETS me share vicariously in her new adventures!

What’s All This About?

unnamedOverall, I’m pretty happy with the name of my blog. I started out with a blog called Straight Up and Slightly Dirty, but based on the Google search hits I was getting, and my posts never really living up to what I envisioned with that title, I decided to change the name.  I went with a comfortable combination of a nickname given to me by my best friend’s son, the vague connection with Los Angeles, my initials, and an imaginative state of mind, hence – La La Land.

What I’d like to come up with is a Tagline that encapsulates all of that.

Why?

  • Because the title is the first thing most readers will see.
  • Because “What’s this blog about?” is the first thought most readers will have.
  • Because a short description of your blog helps readers decide to stick around without requiring them to commit to reading a full post or take the time to click over to a separate “About” page.

One of the suggestion from Zero to Hero was to create a one to two sentence tagline that encapsulates my blog, then to fashion that into a text or better yet, a graphic widget for the sidebar.

This all sounds very similar to branding standards. Having a logo, a standard color palate, a font, and particular “voice” that is constant throughout.

I don’t have that at this point.  I’m hoping the writing practices this month will help to achieve that focus, or at least point me in the right direction!

Who Am I, And Why Am I Here?

whoamII decided to participate in WordPress’s Zero to Hero 30 day blog improvement challenge, in the hopes of freshening up my purpose here.

I’ve been blogging for quite a few years, and once in a while I just think you have to move the furniture around, take the rugs out, hang them on the line and beat the bejiggers out of them. Am I right?

What I’d like to do is formulate an “About Me” page that gives readers, new ones as well as loyal ones, and me too for that matter – context as to what this blog is all about, and basically why they should spend their time reading it.

I need to drill down and focus on what my ideas are for what I write about, and what I hope to accomplish with my writing. I’ve often toyed with writing a mission statement for this blog, or some kind of list of goals and aspirations…. a Manifesto maybe. This is by no means that finished product, but rather a beginning.

  • So, why do you write a blog, as opposed to say keeping a journal or diary?  I think it is because I need attention, or justification, or some kind of feedback, or – ok I’ll just say it – gratification… Immediate gratification whenever possible.
  • OK, then what kind of things do you write about?  Is there a theme here? I’d like to think that I write stories about things I experience.  Not necessarily just things that happen, but about interesting people, insights, and morals of the story.
  • So who reads this blog anyway? I am very happy to have connected with a number of intersected circles of people through this blog.  I seem to have attracted mostly women of a certain vintage – boomers; and fellow bloggers/writers. I’m content with this audience, because there is a comfort level here, as well as the very present opportunity to learn from and be inspired by our interaction.
  • Does this blog have a goal?  The one goal I have for this blog, and by this blog I mean me – is to make a concerted effort to interact more, by reading and leaving comments on posts I’ve visited.  This has always been a stumbling block for me.  It takes an concerted effort and no small amount of time to visit and read posts of the blogs I enjoy. It also takes an effort to comment though whatever security is set up on each individual site. Then there’s always the threat of falling down the rabbit hole of other blogs linked from one site to another!
  • What do you get out of writing this blog?  I think, when all is said and done, the greatest thing about blogging is how not only the platform, but the persona of who you are evolves. What I thought last year was different than what I thought when I started this blog way back when; and what I think now, is different than what I thought last year. I guess I just need to build in the expectation for improvement, and chagllnge.

At the end of this thirty days, I hope to have a new “About Me” and/or “About This Blog” page.  As always, I’m open to suggestions, criticism, praise, and whatever comments anyone cares to leave!