Does Not Follow Direction Well

Yesterday I shared that I had been advised by someone whom I respect and admire very much to “make friends” with Helplessness. And while agree that this is indeed a sound course of action, I am not only a bit of a procrastinator, I also “don’t follow direction well.” Since grade school. I believe my first grade teacher, Mrs. Griffiths, told my Mom something like, “Timmy is well above average, a bright, well-behaved boy but slightly headstrong. He has a lot of friends but does not follow direction well and, in fact, sometimes resists authority.” 

Guilty as charged…

So today – even though I agree/know that turning Helplessness from my enemy into my friend is a wise move – I decided to spend the day with my old friend, Happiness, instead. (Making new friends can be SO exhausting, LOL!) Seems I haven’t spent a lot of time with Happiness lately and, as it turned out, we had a pretty great day together. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, Happiness can help me change my relationship with Helplessness. At least that is my Hope – OMG, look, another “H” thing!

I found this weird graphic today – I have no idea who or what these little devils are, who made them or what they “mean” but the sight of them did indeed make me happy. I hope they inspire Happiness in you today as well. BTW – Helplessness? I hope you enjoyed this free day; I’ll be “coming for your ass tomorrow.”

be happy

Countdown To Thanksgiving

As we are “one week out” from Thanksgiving – the holiday associated with reflection and giving thanks – I thought I might begin a week-long series of posts with a “Thankful Theme.”

ThankfulI begin the series with this common expression defining happiness. “It is thankful people who are happy.” THANKFUL people. Makes sense, right?

I know that I have MUCH to be thankful for in my own life – more details on that in an upcoming post – but unless I really force myself to remember all that things I am thankful for, I tend to fixate on something that makes me not happy – something that “didn’t happen,” or something I “don’t have but want” or something someone “didn’t do as promised.” This sort of thinking is toxic to the spirit and and promotes sadness rather than joy and happiness.

Going forward, I make this commitment to myself – to be thankful for the smallest of blessings and to celebrate each and every day. I know it will be a struggle to live this way – not because it is hard but because it is so not the way most of us are used to living – but I know it will be worth it.

My Mommo (Grandmother) used to always say: “Timmy? Chin out. Smile on. Eyes up. Look like like you are grateful to be here, because you should be…”

I always thought it was silly when she said that; if I had only listened sooner…  🙂

I want/don’t want this day to end…

Today is turning out to be one of those 27 hour days I always wish for – and while it has been very productive, it’s not as much fun as I thought it would be – I am exhausted and beat… That said,

Good news? As I shared earlier this week, my business just received a retainer from a client for a fabulous design project that, I suspect, will take 6-8 months. Hooray!

stacks of cash

Even better news? At the risk of jinxing it, I think we are also close to signing ANOTHER deal – this one an opportunity to create a model that would be used to attract tenants for a new adaptive reuse project – it’s a cool building in a cool location. We won’t get rich but we will definitely have fun and get to be really creative.

coinsSo, I hate to appear cocky or over confident; in fact, I am just the opposite. I am thankful for these two opportunities and thank The Universe for finally seeing its way clear to send them our way. We won’t disappoint you, promise…

pinky swearSo yeah – work is going kinda’ fantastic. Finally. And again? Thank you, Universe!

On the personal side, my Beloved and I have started the journey to ensure that we will be together, forever. And no, I am not talking about some weird, ritual thingie –

two mummiesRather, we have started the legal proceedings that will allow my husband to remain with me here in America, always. So far, a lot of paperwork to fill out and a lot of “research and gathering” but, in the end, it will all be MORE than worth it…

flag and a rainbowSo, in conclusion, I guess I just wanted to thank The Universe for “turning it around” for me recently. I know I have been a bit hard on you lately – like you haven’t been MORE than a bit hard on me! – but like the hokey old saying says (and Kelly Clarkson sings), “What doesn’t kill ya’ makes you stronger.”

Thanks, Universe, for not killing me. I really, really appreciate it!

body outline

Finally…

For those “keeping score,” my life has been a bit of a roller coaster lately; however, that all changed today… Today, not only did my Beloved and I get some good news from our attorney (hooray! – more later), but my business partner and I “sealed the deal” with a substantial client (got a retainer), and arranged interviews with two more potential new clients…

finallyYou know that moment in movies, when the clouds part and rays of sunshine come streaming down – usually accompanied by some sort of  extended “AHHHH!” sound? I heard/felt that today for change. And I am glad…

Thank you, Universe! I knew you’d come through eventually – now, let’s keep that momentum going please! Please?

thank you

Are Squirrels Happy?

Today, Martin and I took a 90 minute stroll after dinner, partly because my Sweetie likes to be “busy,” maybe a little because he likes to be outside and I think a lot because it is Fall, it’s beautiful out and walking is both good exercise for the body and a renewing experience for the soul. So, decked out in our “official walking shoes,” we went to Southerly Park, a few blocks from where we live in Shaker.

The walk was great and the occasional mist of rain was actually quite refreshing. I personally sometimes feel a bit detached from Nature and the Earth, so when Martin “makes” me go out in the real air, I am always thankful (he’s so good for me). Anyway, the walk was pleasant, my companion awesome and the trees in the park – while not in full Autumn colors yet – were still beautiful. Southerly Park has a small stream that runs through the center and it is really quite lovely. It also boasts a 27-year-old “fitness trail,” so along the way we stopped and did a few stretching exercises, I attempted some pull-ups (no way!) and Martin dazzled me with his balance and agility skills. It was fun.

The park had a few other people and dogs/kids in it but, more than anything, there were a lot of these guys, and I mean a LOT of these guys…

squirrel with a nutAs we walked long the paths, we passed what seemed like dozens of them, all just nibbling away and smiling – I think. I guess squirrels smile. Which made me wonder – are squirrels happy?

I mean, look. All squirrels seem to do is eat all day, run around in trees and have fun. They MUST be happy, right? Gosh, it makes ME happy just to watch them run. Have you ever watched a squirrel run? They move like a frantic, fluid living squiggle, their undulating bodies and tails mimicking human brain waves – I know it always calms my mind to watch them run…

red squirrel runningAnd to watch squirrels play, OMG, it makes me smile from ear to ear. They dart and dash and chase each other like crazy things. They run up and down trees. They race across yards and fences, bushes and even phone and electrical wires.

If squirrels were people, they would be the loner skate-boarding rascals that never work and just “hang out” all day being ultra-cool. We would hate them and wish we were them, all at the same time…

squirrel on a fence

So, I guess I choose to believe that squirrels are happy. I definitely envy them their life (well, not the smashed on the asphalt/road kill part of it, but all the rest). Playing, eating, sleeping, playing some more, eating some more, sleeping some more. How bad could that life be?

Maybe the next time someone suggests I am a little “squirrelly,” I’ll be sure to take that as a compliment!

Today Only?

So, I wanna’ apologize for a few of my previous posts this week; in review, some of them seem to be a little too “the-world-pissed-on-me-today” for my liking. It made me stop, think and evaluate my attitude about how and why things happen.

I have had a few challenging “situations” at work this week, a few scheduling and financial “things” happen. But – I mean, I was not swallowed up by some sink hole. My business was not destroyed by some fire-nado (still trying to process that through in my head). I wasn’t diagnosed with some obscure terminal illness.

I had a couple crappy days in a row – who doesn’t, right? So I promise to have a better attitude going forward…

Free happiness

As much as the image above makes me smile, I have come to realize that joy can be limitless, if we allow it to be. Happiness is not a “One Day Only” deal.

I have always liked/believed this list of “rules” for living a happier life:

rules

I especially needed to remind myself of points 2, 3, 4 and 5 (OK, at least I was good with 1, LOL!) So today, I spent the day with the man I plan on spending forever with, my mind totally empty save for the task of grabbing flavored coffee creamer before we came home and was just “in the moment” all day long. Among our assortment of amazing, loving and generous friends, we have one that has an extraordinary house, right on Lake Erie. We spent the day there – doing nothing at all but laughing, reading, splashing, being silly, getting sunburned (me, at least) and just being happy.

Being happy. That felt really nice. I suggest that everyone give it a try; I know I plan on revisiting happiness as soon as I can. Probably tomorrow…

With Apologies In Advance to My Fair Lady…

On Thursday, 08 August 2013, at 1:30 PM, I will be marrying the man of my dreams in a small, private civil ceremony. It will be the happiest day of my life – pics and stories to follow.

In the meantime, with all due respect to gay men and musical lovers everywhere, please enjoy this slightly (I hope!) humorous pictorial treatment of one of the greatest songs from the timeless musical, “My Fair Lady.” Enjoy!

I’m getting married in the morning!

morning

Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime.

Chiming bells

Pull out the stopper! 

Stopper

Let’s have a whopper!

Whopper

But get me to the church on time!

In time

I gotta be there in the mornin’ 

Rooster

Spruced up and lookin’ in me prime. 

????????????

Girls, come and kiss me; 

Kissing Booth

Show how you’ll miss me. 

Crying eyes

But get me to the church on time! 

final carriageAgain, I apologize to every musical lover out there, but I couldn’t resist!

In less than twenty-four hours, I will be legally married to the man I want to share my forever with; at times, I thought I would never see this day. Now that it is here, I can hardly believe it. Thanks in advance to all our loving friends and family – my Sweetie and I could have NEVER made it this far without your constant love, caring and support. We appreciate it! Now, time to get some beauty sleep!

Martin? I love you with all my heart. Details to follow. Wish us luck…  😀

I Go Out Walking, In The Sunlight… (sorry, Patsy!)

Usually about twice a week, I kiss my beloved partner “Goodbye for now” and leave our apartment to walk the 2.04 miles to work. I know I have blogged about it before – it’s a super pleasant walk through some lovely neighborhoods and it gives me 45 minutes or so to have an “empty head” and I love that. (Note: When I say I walk to work, it is walking with no other adjectives attached – not power walking or speed walking or high-performance walking, just walking). Anyway, this morning it was GORGEOUS – bright and sunny and the temperature? Perfect. So, inspired by the recent iPhone ads that state that more pics are taken with iPhones every day than all the other cameras in the world combined, I used mine to document my pedestrian journey this morning – ENJOY!

This was the sight that inspired my photo safari – I think this is a weeping cherry and it is so beautiful in person, it takes my breath away…

photo (3)The sunlight streaming through the branches was just amazing. I love this tree.

Forging on, I started walking down Fairmount Boulevard, the stately street where my shop is located. Grand old homes with lush, mature trees line both sides of the boulevard (Fairmount is actually a real, divided boulevard street). Anyway, I was distracted by all these flowers – I think they are flowers – falling off the maple trees onto the sidewalk –

photo (4)I loved the texture of it all, and the bright green against the deep concrete color of the sidewalk. I stood there and just looked at it for a minute when I felt like someone was watching me – I looked up, and there she was…

photo (1)That’s right, a deer! Now, I have seen deer in our neighborhood before (which is like so weird to me as there isn’t really a large wooded area or reserve anywhere close by) but this little guy followed me the entire length of the yard, like he was watching me as much as I was watching him. It was kinda’ cool and kinda’ weird. BTW, check out that mossy sidewalk. Pretty awesome, right?

Now, a little more than half way to work, I pass a private Catholic girls’ school which occupies the grounds of a former estate, complete with the old mansion that now serves as the school’s administration building. The whole property is surrounded by a huge stone wall, obviously built at different times, which averages about six feet high. It is really magnificent and definitely gives the school an air of mystery and money. The wall has many “moments” I like but this little tree, struggling to grow up ON the wall, reminded me of that line from the movie Jurassic Park, you know, when the dinosaurs have been breeding and having babies, despite the protocols put in place to prevent that from happening. One of the characters says, “Nature always finds a way.” This little sapling reminds me that one day this school and wall will be in ruins/gone but the trees will still be there…

photo (5)Here is another “moment” from that same wall, another section clearly added at another time. Pretty beautiful, tho’ –

photo (6)Then, almost at the end of the school grounds, I look down and see these bright yellow primroses, just “plopped” there. Primroses. In the ground. Jeesh, I cannot even keep primroses alive in little pots from the grocery store…

photo (7)So, almost at work, I change sides of the street so I can walk along the row of storefronts that houses my store. Our block is actually really nice – big, deep sidewalks with outside seating and trees and planter boxes lining the street. We haven’t “planted” our planter box yet this season, but the sun was smiling down on these painted tulips, left behind by a former tenant of my space.

photo (8)Yeah, these tulips are sweet – and I guess my friend the deer doesn’t know how to cross the street because people tell me tulips are to deer like potato chips are to people, LOL! Anyway, I had a GREAT walk on the way to work, and am so happy with my store’s new location. I sat outside for a minute on one of the benches before I went in, just sort of taking it all in and being happy.

photo (9)I still can’t believe we moved the store, and how great it has been since the move. Sigh… I’m a pretty lucky guy. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my “walk” and will stop in the store soon. I’ll make sure our planter box is full and luscious…

 

Joy Fall-Out

I like to think I have a pretty awesome circle of friends – they support me and my beloved, they endure my craziness, they are (for the most part) socially conscious and engaged and they, by and large, make the world a better place simply by being themselves. I am pretty blessed. I seem to gravitate to “art-sy” types, maybe because I work in the design field, maybe because I am gay, who knows? My friends all seem to be somehow gifted in the arts department – writers, artists, designers and the like.

One of my dearest friends, Chris, would probably deny that he even is an artist, although he owns and manages an amazing and highly successful fine arts framing company in San Francisco. I have known Chris and his partner for just about five years but have gotten very close to them in the past couple of years. They are two very special people, in all the BEST definitions of the word. Kind. Loving. Generous. Giving. Selfless. Worldly. Responsible.

Anyhow, like most of my friends, Chris is a part of my online “social network” and while he is not a mad-poster like other friends, he does pop-up in my feed with reasonable frequency. Chris is one of my most political friends so typically his posts reflect current events or ways to better the world. They always make me smile but recently he posted this image, which made me stop and grin from ear to ear:

ImagePhoto courtesy of CB Fine Art Photography. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

The caption attached to the pic was simply this: “Growing shade outside of Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco.” I am guessing it was an image captured by my friend with his iPhone as he was walking outside the market. Speaking from a scholarly place, the composition is visually interesting, the balance and juxtaposition of colors is engaging. The artist plays with shadows of leaves contrasted against reflections of leaves in the glass. It clearly displays the sometimes hard to grasp concept of the “quality of light.”

In a nutshell, it is simply a kick ass photo.

But it was more than a simple pic/post for me. For one thing, I kinda’ joke with my friends about being affected with mild S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder – Google it) and this image, bright and saturated with sunlight, made me forget all the gray nothingness that is Ohio at the moment. I smiled, too, as I remembered being at Rainbow Grocery with my beloved Martin and Chris and his beloved guy during our trip to San Francisco last year. The visit to Rainbow Grocery was a big deal/no big deal, you know? Just four friends, having fun doing nothing, laughing and talking as we walked aisles of soy, bamboo and “free-range” products. The memory of that happy time made me smile.

In an effortless moment, simply by innocently posting a photograph, my friend lifted my spirits and reminded me of some awesome memories. I am sure it was not his original intention but he really made my day great by sharing that picture. It is moments like this, moments that I like to call “collateral joy happenings” that I wish would happen more often, not only for me but for everyone.

I’d like to publicly thank all my friends for being in my life. As I said, I am blessed with many great friends – I look forward to making many more memories/having many more adventures with all of you. As each new event and chapter in my life unfolds, I promise to savor every moment and open myself up to joy. And I promise to do my best to share that joy with you.

No Sticks, Just Stones…

I don’t know why, exactly, but stones have been in my thoughts all day today. I guess you could say I have rocks in my head…

My earliest recollection of collecting things involved stones. Like most little boys (I suppose), I remember always picking up stones, or looking for stones – a certain size or shape or color. I remember skipping stones across the still surface of the lake behind my grandparents’ house in Tennessee. I distinctly remember learning to drive at sixteen, accelerating a bit too aggressively and “laying a patch of rubber” in my parents’ gravel drive, spraying rocks and pebbles onto my father’s perfectly-manicured lawn. I also distinctly remember raking them all back out to the driveway, and then raking the driveway.

Even in my adult life, stones are a constant. Every day, stones stir up memories for me…

Image

In our living room, a squarish piece of gray granite sits on a shelf, a reminder of a trip I took to Europe almost twenty years ago. I liberated that stone from a huge stack of stones destined to become a section of a public sidewalk in downtown Berlin. In our kitchen, my beloved Martin has a “memory jar” from our trip to San Francisco in late May/early June 2012. There, amid sand from a beach, redwood needles from our day trip to Muir Woods and other odd bits and pieces of paper and ticket receipts, rests a tiny, pea-sized stone from the backyard of our friends, the friends who were our hosts for a week. Every morning, I look at a smooth river rock, much like the stones above, pilfered from a planter on a trip to Kansas to visit with my (at-the-time) best friends in the world more than a decade ago. That stone rests on a table in our bedroom. And it reminds me that, no matter how permanent things may seem, things can change.

I am not in contact with my Kansas friends anymore – I’m not sure why, although I have reached out many times by phone, email and snail mail, all to no avail. It makes me sad that we are no longer friends but I have done my best to find out why.

So why do I keep that stone when the memories it represents makes me sad? To be honest, that stone represents good memories for me of great friends; our relationship has faded but the good memories still burn brightly in my mind.

I keep that stone because it reminds me to live in the moment, to be present in life and to be thankful for every memory, every moment, as it happens. I understand now why people refer to others as their “rock,” and thank them their grounding presence. I just guess my “rocks” actually are rocks…