Visualizing Abundance

The first month of 2014 has been rough, business-wise. I’m glad it’s over. The ridiculous weather over the past few weeks has definitely put the kibosh on our retail business. Our design business has been doing OK; actually, a little better than OK (thank The Universe!) And, to be honest, our retail business got a little “boost” today – still we need more.

More, more, more…

I always smile when my New Age-y friends suggest I “visualize wealth, abundance and prosperity.” Supposedly, all I have to do is ask The Universe to shower me with abundance and my prayers will be answered. Boy oh boy, if that is the case, I’m asking (in a loud voice):

“Are you there, Universe? If so, may I please ask that you shower me with abundance? I’d really, really appreciate it! And I hate to be a nag, but sooner than later, please? Thanks again!”

My friends also suggest I “see” the wealth in my mind. So, to help expedite this request, I am including these “rich” images:

Moneygem stonesGold BarsCakeTo be sure, the first three images represent riches I HOPE to enjoy sometime soon; the last image represents a type of richness I have enjoyed many, many times. OMG, I hope my request to The Universe was clear enough, LOL! I really don’t need any more gooey chocolate cake! I’d really like many more Benjamins, please – THX!

Another New Year’s Eve

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, ushering in the Year of the Horse. So tonight, after a fashion, is another New Year’s Eve…

Year of the HorseTo be honest, I know very little about the Chinese zodiac, or what each of the animals represent (found out more here). It appears that, technically, 2014 is the year of the Wood Horse (I have no idea…) I do know, however, that each new year is very symbolic, greatly welcomed and celebrated by the Chinese people. I hope Chinese New Year is a lot like our regular old “calendar” New Year – a day for celebration, reflection, optimism and hope. Like who wouldn’t want that? Happy Year of the Horse, Everyone!!!

Chinese New Year

 

A New Supreme

I watch a LOT of TV. Too much, probably. But alas, after tonight, I will watch less…

Tonight is the season finale of American Horror Story: Coven. Love it or hate it, AHS (American Horror Story) is a wildly-creative series. The way cast members move in and out between the seasons, the acting/actors are fantastic (love me some Jessica Lange in EVERY season) and the ridiculous, at times over-the-top-insult-your-intelligence story arcs are, mostly, brilliant. Tonight AHS comes to a close with the selection of a new “Supreme.”

AHS CovenAgain, love it or hate it, this season has been one wild, insane roller coaster. Stellar casting – I mean, Jessica Lange AND Kathy Bates AND Angela Bassett? C’mon! Plot arcs that were stupid (the whole Frankenstein thing), sub plots that ended abruptly (oh, wow, all the witch hunters must be dead now, right?) and what was that whole thing with Patti LuPone? Anyway, Ryan Murphy? If you EVER see this, know I am MAD for this series. Keep dishin’ out the crazy, OK? But enough hero worship for now – I have to pick my own supreme before tonight’s episode begins – I think I’ll go with this one…

Supreme Bars

Living in Technicolor

Someone asked me today how it felt – no, actually she asked me what it felt like – now that my beloved husband Martin has been granted a green card. I told her that in many ways, it felt just the same, but in one BIG way, it felt much different.

She pressed on, asking me for more details. I asked if she remembered the scene from The Wizard of Oz, right after Dorothy lands in Munchkinland. Prior to the moment she opens the front door, the movie is in black and white (more of a sepia, actually). Once the door opens, before her is Oz in all its Technicolor glory – bright, beautiful and full of wonder. Her whole world changed, and the way she saw the world changed as well…

That’s how it felt for me today – the world was now bright, beautiful and amazing, full of boundless opportunities and endless joy. In an even more graphic (and definitely “less gay” way), our world went from this yesterday morning –

Sepia tree

… to something a LOT more like this in the early afternoon –

Green treeIt is a new and different feeling, being able to “see” all the colors and possibilities in our future now, Martin and me. It is amazing how one tiny document can change your life in ways hard to even imagine. We can travel. We can work/live wherever we want. We don’t have to worry about being separated. We can BREATHE. And it is a pretty kick-ass feeling for sure.

We are ready – ready to leave the sepia behind and start living in bold Technicolor! Hooray!

Green Card Success!

Today, after five years and five months of praying, hoping, dreaming, wishing and planning, my Beloved was approved for his spousal-based green card. And while I will still be a little anxious until it physically arrives here in the mail (7-10 business days), I finally feel relieved – and renewed. We are, as couples in our situation sometime joke, no longer “waiting to exhale.” The last obstacle in our path to a long, bright, joyful future has FINALLY been removed. We have a destination ahead…

happyAs the final “test” in our journey, our personal interview was scheduled today for 12:45PM; less than one hour later, we were sitting in the car, Martin smiling from ear to ear and me sort of numb with happiness.

I had gone into the appointment “locked and loaded,” ready for anything. We had in tow our AWESOME attorney, Stacy Cozart of the Cleveland firm Sharon & Kalnoki; Martin and I were in our best business casual attire and I was carrying not one but TWO accordion files full of documentation, photos and other forms, paperwork and receipts. If I am being honest, I also walked in today with 5+ years of pent-up frustration and anger at our ridiculous immigration laws, the emotional baggage of nights/weeks/months spent crying missing Martin while we were apart, a logjam of emotions about the injustice of our situation and – no offense to Catholicism – pretty much an “expect-the-worse-but-hope-for-the-best” frame of mind and attitude.

stacks of papersAs it turns out, I didn’t need most of what I had brought – especially the attitude…

Our interviewer was gracious and respectful. He seemed unfazed by the whole same-sex couple thing and was very professional. He asked the pertinent questions, shared a few stories and asked us for some and, the whole time, seemed genuinely interested in us “succeeding” in our application. Stacy was definitely a comforting presence, and I won’t lie – Martin and I are a pretty squeaky-clean couple, so we weren’t too worried about our application. At least Stacy and Martin weren’t too worried. Me? It’s my JOB to worry.

I was worried that we might not find out the decision in our case till a day or so from today but when I saw the examiner whip out that big old APPROVED stamp, I could not have been happier. He stamped a LOT of pages, congratulated and welcomed Martin, told him to expect his green card in 7-10 business days, shook our hands and wished us well. I did my best not to cry in his office – I made it to the outer hall before five+ years of pent-up emotions all just sort of rushed out. Martin squeezed my hand; Stacy told me not to cry but to celebrate and go have a drink for her (she had to get back to the office to go to a funeral).

Men Shaking HandsAnd so there we were, my beloved Martin and I, sitting in the car. It was over. It was an odd moment for me – I was happy beyond measure but, I guess, at the same time, I never expected it would happen so softly and quietly. I suppose I was waiting for glitter cannons and a ticker tape parade but, at the end, it was just the man I loved and me, as it often has been and always will be.

Don’t get me wrong – we could have NEVER gotten here without the love and support of our friends. I would like to mention everyone by name, but you know who you are. Martin and I have so many friends and supporters locally, as well as online friends we have never even met. We have made so many amazing friends, some of whom are still apart, some of whom are “in process” and some of whom are still waiting to exhale. I am personally committed to remain involved with LGBT immigration reform till ALL our friends are where they want to be…

I also want to mention a few great organizations that helped us. I would like to begin with Out4Immigration, an all-volunteer organization with whom I volunteered for a number of years. Martin and I have made a LOT of great friends thru that group, and Out4Immigration provided invaluable assistance and guidance along every step of our journey. I would also like to thank Lavi Soloway, partner in Masliah & Soloway, the founders of The DOMA Project. His/their groundbreaking work not only inspired us in our own journey but continues to help binational same-sex couples like us come together. And finally, mad love and respect to our own hometown law firm of Sharon & Kalnoki. The amazing Stacy Cozart, in partnership with her uber-assistant Magda Vlcek, brought us home safely and “sealed the deal” (and held MY hand thru the whole process – those ladies are incredible!)

trophies

And so, now a new chapter begins for Martin and me. If our lives are like a novel, we have committed several chapters to “setting it all up” – now we are ready for the story to get good and we are definitely ready for the “happily ever after” part to begin. We are well on our way…

The Night Before

I had a great day today but tonight, I feel more than a little bit like this young man…

nervousSee, tomorrow is our USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) “personal interview” – the final step, The Universe willing, in the long journey to secure a green card for my beloved husband. The journey has been a long and draining one, both emotionally and financially, but we are now very close to “The Prize” – a green card for my Sweetie that will allow us both to finally “exhale” and imagine a future together that WE plan, without worry of separation or forced relocation or a hundred other variables. Oh sure, our new future will also be riddled with unknowns but at least we will know that we will always be together…

I have no reason – other than being raised Catholic – to assume the outcome tomorrow will be anything less than this,

approvedbut, you know, until that final seal-the-deal handshake, I will be anxious. We have done everything asked of us – we have documents and paperwork and shared this and that, all of it. Yet I am still overwhelmed with butterflies.

We have all our “documents” gathered. I have asked all our friends and family to hold good intentions and asked The Universe to watch over and protect us. I even reached out to my personal guardian angels above – my Mom, my Mommo, my older sister Peg and my favorite Aunt AJ – to “pull the circle tight” and “shower us with their love and protection.”

I think we are good. But – until I see this,

green cardarrive in our mail box with my Angel’s name on it, I will be a little worried…

I look forward to posting my “HAPPY HELL YEAH!” post here tomorrow. Until that time, think good thoughts and thank you – thank you all for all your love, support, encouragement and assistance. While the journey has sucked many times, it has been made so much easier by all the friends we have made along the way, and all the friends that have been in our lives the whole time. For each of you, I am thankful. Now, off to watch some mindless TV and – hopefully – take my mind off tomorrow’s appointment. Happy thoughts, everyone!

Cabin Fever

The weather in Ohio SUCKS today. That is SUCKS, as in all capitol letters. It is very cold, very windy and the roads? A nightmare. The whole state is under some winter storm advisory and several counties have restricted driving: “…no non-essential vehicles; only necessary service vehicles, such as police and fire units and medical vehicles such as ambulances.” The weather was so bad, in fact, that my business partner and I decided not to even open our store today. The weather is extreme. The situation is serious. Travel is dangerous.

And I want to go out SO BAD I could scream. I have “Cabin Fever” already – after like six hours at home…

Cabin Fever cartoon

cabin fever n. – Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area.

I do not know if I can honestly describe the roughly nine hours I have been awake today as a “prolonged” period, or if our 1300+ square foot apartment – complete with 300+ cable channels, the internet and working telephones – qualifies as an environment with a lack of stimulation or could be considered confining. It is indoors so I guess I can claim that one.

I’m not sure what it is about humans that make us so “antsy” by nature – maybe not antsy so much as disobedient. It is definitely wise to stay inside today/tonight, safe and sound in our warm, heated apartment, complete with food (even ice cream!), plenty of diversions and, best of all, each other. Yet, both Martin and I are Jonesin’ to get outta’ here today, even if only for an hour or so…

We Surrender

I think it must be the weather, the lack of light, the abundant snow, all combined with a lack of basic common sense that is suggesting we at least go out and pick up a pizza. Or something. Truth be told, we have dinner plans with friends – HOORAY! Anyway, I hope to cure my cabin fever in its early stages. Like all ailments, I think early and aggressive treatment is always the most sensible decision…   😀

PS – Thanks to artist Dave Granlund for these awesome strips. They are perfect!

Wind Chill Factor

“So, THIS is what minus 24 degrees feels like…”

beachToday I was off work. It has been a long (as in L-O-N-G) week, and I was looking forward to doing a whole lotta’ nothing with my beloved Martin today. After sleeping in and a bit of early morning “puttering,” our attention turned to our plans for the day. As usual, we were trying to decide on something fun to do that cost little/nothing. So we hit upon an insane idea:

Let’s go to the beach!

People that follow me here probably know that one of my Sweetie’s favorite things to do is go to the beach. Since we live in Ohio, there aren’t a lot of “real beaches” but we do have a pretty sweet one at a state park about 35-40 minutes away. We try and get there at least once a week during the warm, summer months and typically go there into early fall. The beach is beautiful, the setting amazing and for anyone that has never seen Lake Erie, well, there is a reason why it is one of the “Great Lakes.” Standing on the shore, it looks like an ocean (OK, there are no dolphins or sea turtles but we do have shore birds and jet skis, LOL!) So, we decided it might be fun to see our beloved beach in a new season all together.

Plus, we are really just stupid twelve-year-old boys at heart and thought nothing of the minus 24 degree wind chill factor. So off we went, in our thick wool sweaters, big bulky coats, hats, scarves and gloves. We were excited…

Just for some perspective/a reality check, this is a shot of us at the beach last September:

Merman

The pale, jelly-like creature in the back is me. And here we are at the same beach today:

IMG_3658AYeah, I know – I look kick-ass in hats, LOL! All kidding aside, it was SO FLIPPIN’ COLD! I have never experienced anything like that. Yowzah, it was beyond chilly. That said, the beach was serenely beautiful in a new, different way. Gone were the hundreds of people usually present, and it was just me and my Sweetie. The moment actually felt very special…

IMG_3645ASo, while I cannot wholeheartedly suggest anyone willingly expose themselves to sub-zero temps, I do encourage everyone to experience familiar places in new ways when the opportunity arises. It is pretty amazing…

IMG_3647AA panoramic shot of Mentor Headlands Beach, 24 Jan 2014 about 2:30PM.

 

 

 

 

Radiant Orchid

So a LOT of fuss has been made recently about Radiant Orchid – Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014. Everyone wants to know how interior designers (meaning me!) plan to use it.

radiant_orchid-e1386247142119As a professional interior designer, I have to admit (somewhat shamefully) that I am not too crazy for this color. At all. It is a little too “pinky” for me. But it does provide great inspiration for beautiful interiors. I mean, going with the broader term of orchid as a starting point…

I’d anchor a room with some fabulous rug like this one –

rug

Then add some ridiculously chic, sculptural sofa – maybe one like this –

sectionalAnd with a sofa with that much personality, we’d need a couple lounge chairs that could “hold their own” in the space –

chairsI might have to “tweak” the color on that sectional a bit. Next? Art of course! Something not too subtle –

artToo much? Well, if I were going for “too much,” I’d finish the room with this chandelier –

chandelier

chandelier detailNow THIS chandelier is radiant! Orchid? Well, maybe a bit more purple, actually, but radiant nonetheless. I hope you all find your own way with Radiant Orchid – if you need any help, you know where to find me…

Ice, Ice Baby (with a nod to Robert Frost)

ice cubesI have to say, at the risk of appearing to be an old curmudgeon, I am growing weary of winter weather. Cold? Snow? Ice? Ugh.

Oh, I know – come Summer, I’ll be complaining about the heat. OK, sure, I will… But for now, a few days in a row of sunlight with temps above 50 degrees seems almost unattainable. Sigh…

I’m not sure why, but this poem – memorized in whatever fifth grade class – sticks in my head today (and I am no poetry fan). Plus, is it just me or is it a bit ironic this author’s last name is FROST?

 Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.