And the winners are…

Heirloom tomatoes for 2015 planting

Every year, it feels like a crapshoot. And every year, we’re amazed at the bounty and beauty that comes from the earth.

Eight to 10 heirloom tomato varieties (plus tomatillos!) varying in size, shape and color. Salad forecast for 2015: pretty darned good.

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When you feel like you just don’t belong

When I was a pre-teen, I really struggled with a sense of not belonging. We’d just moved cross-country to South Texas where, culturally, I should’ve fit in like a hand in a glove.

It didn’t quite happen that way.

Once again, I wasn’t in the majority. Even though I looked like everyone else, I stuck out, but in a different way than I’d stuck out in Indiana. I couldn’t be called out anymore for having “hair that didn’t match any of [my] clothes” or “being left in the oven for too long.” In Texas, I wasn’t “Hispanic enough” for the locals.

Back in the Midwest, I was usually the 2nd or 3rd Hispanic kid in the entire school. Add to that being a pastor’s kid and you really got looked at like you had three heads. In Texas, people’s eyes got big when they thought my dad was a priest.

I’ve spent a lot of my life being different, and by now, I’m more used to that than I am fitting right in with crowds or conforming to norms.

Somehow, by the grace of God, when I was about 12 or 13, I felt a sudden awareness that there was really not that much to worry about, at least when it came to feeling like I looked funny, dressed funny, or that others were always talking about me behind my back.

Sidenote: There’s this very sad paranoia that goes with that difficult age that just haunts most of us, and I can’t even imagine the pressures on today’s young people. My heart aches for them. Add social media, of course – it all blows up.

Anyway, suddenly I knew I didn’t need to worry about that anymore. Other people were just as busy spending time worrying about their well being, reputation or sense of belonging as I was.

If I was too busy navel-gazing to worry about them, the same had to be true of them with regard to me.

And that was that.

From that day on, I kind lost my interest in giving in to the fabricated peer pressure that had held me hostage. Now, I’m not in any way saying I’ve never suffered from that since. There are, after all, relapses in adulthood, you know.

I’m just saying that, when we consider we are all human, we share much more in common than we have differences.

  • We all want to be loved and to belong – which means we probably all get lonely and feel rejected at times.
  • We all want the world to be a nicer, more caring place – which means we probably share a dislike of the mean-spiritedness that seems to be on the rise.
  • We all want the best for our families, for the next generation – which means we probably share a sense of having failed them from time to time.

And you know what – it’s all right. We are normal. We are human. And that, to me, is beautiful common ground.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. You’re not alone.

My happy, happy Valentine’s heart

heartWhat a wonderful weekend.

It wasn’t eventful, but it was full.

It wasn’t fancy, but it was lovely.

It wasn’t full of fanfare, but it was full of joy.

It wasn’t hysterical, but it was funny.

It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, and that’s what made it special.

Tennis Lesson: Do over!

I’m an avid tennis player, and I like to work on my game whenever possible. So I practice. I drill. I play doubles and singles – anything to make me a more well-rounded player.

But like anyone who plays sports knows, the game can really get inside my head.

When it’s showtime – during a match – it’s really easy to get hung up on the last error I made. It happens to a lot of players.

Once we screw up, it’s like we can’t forgive ourselves fast enough to move on and play our best, even though, in Someone Famous’s words (Bruce Lee?), every new point is an opportunity to win.

The quote sounds trite, I know. But it completely turned my game around by helping me let go of the last point and move on.

Lucky for me as I get older, a concussion from my junior year in high school makes my short-term memory even shorter, so that’s pretty helpful too.

By the next point, that error is all behind me. Once that next serve crosses the net and kicks off a new point, I’m all there and ready to play, with bells on.

Lesson learned: Every first chance deserves another – in tennis and in life. We don’t always get it right the first time – or there’d be no need for a second serve, right?

So I’m vowing to go easier on myself and on others. We can all use a little a do-over now and then.

WFH: How’s it going for ya?

* WFH – Working from home

DeathtoStock_Creative Community3-xsm

Death to Stock Photo image

A few years ago, I wanted so badly to trade places with my consultant husband. I worked for ‘the man’ and had done so my entire career.

But I didn’t get to pick up at the drop of a hat, go for a bike ride or on a fishing trip (not that I would) – or even ride some powder in the mountains after fresh snow. I was a mere mortal.

If I’m honest, I probably held a grudge for a good 10 years. Until the tables turned.

Now, I’m wearing his shoes and well, there’s a lot to learn — mostly about myself.

In fact, it wasn’t until just recently I realized how much I need to be around people as part of my work. I’m a flaming extrovert, so while I adore my cat, being alone with him all day – well, that just won’t work.

Trust experienced telecommuters
I’m thinking Someone is saying something to me. Between this blog from Tara Mohr:

One of the things that made difference – that made the exciting parts come to the fore, and the harder parts fade to the background, was taking care of myself in the little ways. I’ve been spending so much more time with people I love, and taking the time to get out and do my work in beautiful cafes – doing the little things that nurture me.

..and this straightforward listen-to-your-rhythms piece, I need to make some changes.

Is the grass really greener?
In a world driven by happy-path stories and personas, it’s easy to think everyone else is living the dream. (Pssst…they’re probably thinking the same of you.) But sometimes what we have is exactly what we need during that moment … just with a slight twist.

My “twist” will be working away from home more – in cafés beautiful or otherwise – so I can be around people more. What will yours be?

Transition

southern-shores

“I learned about waves when I was little, swimming in Lake Michigan in navy blue water under a clear sky, and the most important thing I learned was this: if you try to stand and face the wave, it will smash you to bits, but if you trust the water and let it carry you, there’s nothing sweeter.”
—Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

As a kid who grew up near the ocean, I can totally vouch for this. As a landlocked adult, it’s even more true now.

Pan Am: Talk about shipping – or not

Welcome to my #Day4 post of #YourTurnChallenge with Seth Godin.

I was just hours from being shipped off to NYC as my base. Undoubtedly, I’d be flying international flights, primarily. Most of us newbies would.

We were Pan Am Flight Attendant Class #21, and we’d just completed six weeks of “Barbie Doll Boot Camp” (well, that’s what we called it) in Miami, living out of suitcases the whole time  — you know, to get the hang of it.

We trained together, ate together, exercised together and qualified for our new posts together — including that huge, inflatable emergency slide.

IMG_4554The Q Flight
My qualification flight to Mexico City took place a few days before I would head to NYC. All I can remember was working First Class on the outbound flight – a large but mostly empty cabin upfront. Incredibly uneventful.

And then there was the return flight, which I nearly missed. (Now, after having flown to Mexico City for work a few times since then, I completely understand why.)

I worked Economy on the way back — a distinct difference from the trip to Mexico’s capital. We had about 400 passengers — all hungry, probably except for the guy whose Kosher meal I forgot. Another passenger was so thirsty, I poured coffee all over his lap.

Back to the night of graduation. My mom had flown in to see me off, I had done really well in training and had been promised many opportunities, and it was my turn to receive my certificate.

I showed up “dead-heading” – in street clothes, rather than uniform. And I bailed. I withdrew from employment with one of the “sexiest” airlines around (no pun intended, but whatever).

And it had nothing to do with the job.

Over the last six weeks, I’d been running from grief. My father had died of lymphoma nine months earlier, and I now realized I hadn’t really grieved his passing or how much I missed him.  Or how much my mom and I needed each other.

I’d been going too fast, with multiple attempts to return to college, a big breakup and now Pan Am.

Pan Am was fun, but not all that fun when my mind was on family. It was time to go home.

It’s not like I have never “what if’d” that decision, but the fantasy can’t beat my reality. My career took me around the world in a whole other context, for which I will be forever grateful and changed.

And you know what? I finally learned how to live out of a suitcase.