Food for Thought


In the interest of preserving my karmic equity I have developed a sort of code language.  Everyone’s got one whether they know it or not.  On my legacy journey I want to make certain not to piss off the Universe before I arrive but there are times…..

I’m in a business that is dominated by men. Enough said.  But the thing is, in this tiny little part of the business I’m responsible for they have to get approvals from….me.  These are grown men mind you, not children so hold that thought.

I was taught by the best and thankfully he didn’t spare any of the gory details.  Here are some of the more common translations I use to quell the boy inside the man when they try to get over on me.  If it sounds a little (or maybe a lot) like your mother you’re right on target.

What I say… What I mean…


Help me understand. WTF


What am I missing? Did you really think that would work?


Once upon a time… Oh yeah, let’s hear this story.


Sooooo, let me see if I have this right,

You want….

You did….

You said…

And now you want me to…


You’d make a shitty teenager; even they wouldn’t try that logic.




You see how it would be impossible for me to preserve my karmic equity if I said what I really mean right?  I sometimes run into trouble when someone really pushes my buttons as was the case just recently.  Thank God my boss loves a good rant because I was on fire.  After I was done getting it all out of my system I thought well I’LL TEACH HIM A LESSON in my best na na nanana voice.  And I set about crafting an email that would cut like a knife.  About half way through I thought better of it. Kind of.  I know this guy’s got a story and he’s up against it and on and on and on. But he personifies passive aggressive behavior and has a condescending tone.  I thought maybe I should teach him a lesson in my best walk a mile in his shoes tone. So I said what I had to say and put a pacifying stipulation that would help him save face at the end.  Done.  Everyone’s happy, well maybe not him, but certainly me and the Universe.

One of the things I learned a while ago was to check my motivation.  I try to really know why I’m doing something and what I’ll get out of it.  If it runs along the lines of revenge, vengeance, one-up-manship,  I try and stay away from it.  If it leans toward kindness, compassion and humanity I try and go with it.  Listen I’m no saint but I’m trying to change my evil ways as Santana so eloquently suggested.   Truth be told I struggle with doing things just because it’s the right thing to do.  I like the thank yous and the fuss sometimes but that does not a legacy build.

The line I use the most, the one I believe will build my karmic equity better than anything and not tear it down, the one that will make butter drip from my tongue, the line that keeps me out of trouble the most because only those close to me ( and now you ) know about it;

He should live and be well.


Dead To Me.

I know, I’m working on it….

Who Knew?


Something interesting happened at a meeting I was in the other day.  Yes, you read that correctly something interesting happened at a meeting.  Over lunch, during a meet and greet of the new HR head, the request was made, “Tell me three things people might not know about you.”

People never cease to surprise me.  Here among the people I see all the time were accomplished musicians, cyclists, renovators, cooks, photographers and former this and thats with stories to tell.

Some are accomplishing amazing things like black belts and wine making.  Others spurred on by a bit of regret accomplished wonderful ancestry investigations for a chance to document a loved one’s legacy.  Many passionate about children and the chance to make a difference in their lives through activities shared and traditions passed along. And this was a very small portion of the people I work with every day. Imagine….

Each spoke with a bit of hesitation at first, this was a vulnerability moment for everyone including me.  I was a bit let down by the shaking in my voice when I talked about my three passions; the cooking that led to my being a favorite Aunt, my love of photography newly inspired, and, of course, Ordinary Legacy.  My dear friend put it best when he said one should never get pissed about being human.  True that and I came to realize that when I talk about myself I am filled with an emotion that was lacking for many years.  It might take a while to recapture the confidence of passion.  But I did it and I will continue to do it until my voice stops shaking.

I am in awe of people and the way they can surprise and inspire you.  The way they bump up against adversity or regret and make something amazing out of it.  This same week I came across Brandon Stanton who is the energy behind the website Humans of New York.  He too is asking questions of people he meets every time he creates a portrait of them.  Questions like; do you mind if I take your photo?, if you could give one piece of advice what would it be?, can you give me an example?, what has been your greatest struggle.  He is capturing the ordinary legends of the city, the people among us who are making their way in the world in surprising numbers in quiet ways.

Brandon has inspired me to develop an Ordinary Legend ingredient to Ordinary Legacy. It would be a natural progression of my camera meeting my desire to learn how people are making their way in the world and what they might leave behind as a result.  My question, “tell me something people might be surprised to learn about you.”

I have long been a fan of Alice Walker and especially her quote, “Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.” But I’m finding it’s not necessary to live frugally on surprise, it’s everywhere in so many things, people number one among them.

To name just a few this week:

Lunch and a photo walk with my niece Kate found us together in a little restaurant in the East Village with good food and good music and wait staff that were thrilled when we got up to lindy to Glen Miller’s In the Mood.  It was a surprise moment, filled with laughter at who would lead and big hug at the end.  Oh yes, and a tiny bit of applause.

My dear Sandra and her husband David stopped on their way home from Maryland for an impromptu dinner on Stowe Lane.  Silly little pizzas, a bottle of red and a bottle of white, the now famous Caesar salad and I couldn’t have been happier.  It was the first time David had been on Stowe Lane and he loves it now too.

The people running the farm stand I stopped at on my way back from Pennsylvania picked out my vegetables for me.  They picked out the perfect tomatoes, corn, blueberries and peaches.  Advice on which ones to eat when, bagged separately so that I wouldn’t forget and the ripeness would unfold over the whole week.  Love that.

The things that will turn a modest life into a three dimensional life are the surprises.  One doesn’t have to live frugally on them if you are open to them and can recognize them when they appear.  They will come from the people all around you, the ones you think you know but really don’t, the ones that inhabit certain parts of your life but have amazing lives away from yours.  You will find surprises in everyone, I know like I know…

Just Enough Rain for Luck

lunch 10

Had anyone told me I would be quoting Steven “Dude looks like a lady” Tyler I would have said they were smoking what he smokes…the thing is he’s got this when he says “If you have a candle, the light won’t glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine.”

I have been the recipient of more generosity than I ever could have imagined.  From my family, from my family, from my family especially my Father.  He didn’t have much, he didn’t know much but he shared everything from stories to lost dreams to insight to the yolk from his over easy eggs salted just perfectly to wint-o-green lifesavers.  We spoke a similar language that only we could understand.

So many generous people have shared their knowledge with me throughout my career that it’s hard to list them all.  Most notably my friend Cookie, a rare breed in the car business that thought it was ok, no more than ok, to share his vast, been there done that, know where the bodies are buried knowledge with a woman of all people.  I’m not talking about the read the financial statement kind of knowledge I’m talking about the watch out for this trick, keep an eye out for this on the bill of sale kind of knowledge.   It was invaluable but beyond that it was the same kind of knowledge my own father shared, the real life, you’ll get kicked in the ass once in a while knowledge in a kicked up more educated went to college version.

Over the course of the sixteen years I worked with him, he was my mentor, he was my friend and he became my confidant during a time when not much was going right.  You can’t help but know an awful lot about each other’s families working together every single day.  He knew my relationship with my father and I knew his relationship with his children especially his Muriel.  So it was no surprise to me when my father died he could see the future.

In the infinity of life that we all share, I have to believe that a promise kept is more important than many other things.  If something happens to me, he said…you’ve got Muriel.  Of course I would, and so I do.  Through the miracle of universal alignment she lives four doors away on our little Stowe Ln.  It’s been an easy friendship full of shared experiences and memories of both her father and mine.  It’s my hope that one day she will think of me as one of the generous people in her life and fulfill her promise of helping me grow old with a sippy cup of wine in my hand…just sayin

I had the honor of seeing her married this past weekend, of chauffeuring her in a shiny BMW the way her Father would have, of authenticating the day through photos that were beautiful but regrettably missing one of the most important people in her life. We didn’t speak of it, we didn’t have to.

It was a joyous day none the less, had I had a daughter I would want her to be exactly like Muriel. Beautiful, real, take after her Father in that sarcastic listen closely so you don’t miss anything kind of way.  We will always share the Father’s Daughter mentality, sentimentality although she will poo poo being capable of any such thing. What we know like we know is that they are exuberantly watching from somewhere and even if they’re not they have shared so much that we will never run out of all that they have left behind for us.

To that end the lesson for both of us from our Father’s has been  to share what we know, not just our knowledge but our way of looking at things, our perspective if you will, our sense of humor, our sense of family and our friendship so that we too can leave behind bits of ourselves.

prewed 10

My dearest Muriel and Martina no amount of love and health and happiness can ever be enough for you.  Know you’re loved, share your lives fully and leave behind all that makes you what and who you are, as individuals and as a couple, so that many can benefit from your having met and married.  Like your wedding day I wish you just enough rain for luck I know like I know it will be a breathtaking life.

A Lifelong Learner the Hard Way


The hard way isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In my family it’s known as slinky syndrome.  I was that kid that had to see how the slinky worked. Have you ever tried to figure out how a slinky works, it’s not pretty you’ll need another one after you make a mess.  But the clue in the mess comes down to curiosity.  I believe it’s one of the most important characteristics of a lifelong learner.  We are curious, we want to know, we want books around us, we trade in preconceived notions, we start things, and we fail.  Himself used to tell me I never had enough input.  He used to chant it sometimes when I would be stuck in a book, more input more input.  I’m ok with that but books aren’t the only place I learn.

My senior year in high school I was working full time.  My classes ended at 11am and I was in work from noon until eight at night.  I was a teller at a bank, making good money and after graduation when some were going off to college I was working.  It was a different time, a high school diploma meant something more then.

Unfortunately the bank and I parted ways and I found myself on unemployment.  Yet another learning experience but I used the time to go to secretarial school through the state.  Typing and steno opened up a whole new world for me, I know steno doesn’t exist anymore but it was a life saver.  Every secretarial position I took became a treasure trove of new ideas, new business experiences, I became a sponge.  The funny thing about a sponge is its capacity is limited it can’t continue to hold  it all.

I became practiced at the art of purging.  This is yet another characteristic of a lifelong learner. We can let go of stale information, we can embrace technology, we can create new paths, and we can defy convention if only in small ways.

I did eventually go to college inspired by a man I worked with.  His name is Rawleigh Tremain and he is that wonderful blend of intelligence, good humor and generosity.  Never once with my lack of formal education did he ever make me feel less.  He inspired me to want to know what he knew.  Several years ago I was able to reconnect with him through the power of technology.  He remains on the periphery of my life and I remain ever grateful.  I have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and couldn’t be more proud of having graduated with honors in my forties.

Lately, I’ve been chasing more creative learning.  I’ve always known that I am a right brained person but over the years I never found the right combination for a creative life.  I think I’m a rare bird that has too much linear thinking combined with lack of bohemian temperament.  My talents lie in process and development…duh… the ability to see things that others can’t, the solution being blatantly obvious is a creative talent.  Fine but I’ve always wanted to be an artist.

I’ve had my camera for a long time.  I’ve been good at it and I’ve gotten tired of it.  Finally I put it down when life got in the way.  So when life gets in the way I go to plan B.  The thing about plan B is if you choose it yourself rather than have it forced on you it’s encouraging, and stimulating, and inspirational.  Plan B put me on Stowe Lane, prompted me to begin my blog, I am in learning overload again.  I believe creativity has found me.  I believe this because my friend David let me know that he was glad I was taking on this project.  Project.  That is the catch phrase of all those wonderfully creative people out there making their personal form of art.  That affirmation will sustain me indefinitely and I am grateful that amazingly creative David bestowed it on me.

I’ve picked up my camera again with the help of Andrea Scher of Super Hero Life and Seth Casteel of Underwater Dogs fame.  I am learning from their unconventional approach to life and teaching.  My courses are online, shared with others through forums, and left to their generous critiques.  There are seminars shared with like-minded people.  There are morning coffee and learn sessions at local retailers.  All these new ways of learning and connecting are creatively assembled by a battalion of young and fresh and generous minds.

Being a lifelong learner means making education a priority.  Lifelong insinuates that it is ongoing, for that you’ve got to be motivated, self-motivated, and you’ve got to use what you learn or purge it.  Surround yourself with the tools of learning, books, people, technology, vision, and curiosity.  Make it habitual, become addicted to it and share what you’ve learned and the excitement it brings you.  With all the new research on brain functioning and longevity the chances are you won’t be alone in your pursuit.


Just an FYI, “a lifelong learner the hard way”  is my story in six words.  The six word memoir project was launched by Smith Magazine in 2005??, maybe?  Not important, what is important is they believe everyone has a story and the six word project has morphed into a phenomenon.  I could read them all day, some of them are poignant, some hilarious, some heartbreaking kind of like PostSecret without the post cards but that will be another post for another time.

Check it out, write your own memoir in six words.  I guarantee you’ll find it interesting, difficult and enlightening.