Saturday, March 24, 2012

Defying Gravity

My 2-year-old granddaughter, Briannah likes to sleep. She takes a nap with little or no resistance and goes to bed at night without a fuss. She did not inherit this trait from her mother, Alicia. Both of my daughters eschewed naps at an early age and kept me hopping the entire time they were awake.

However, Briannah seems to enjoy the cuddliness of a soft blanket, the cozy feeling of her stuffed bear, and her bed time routines. I can’t help but think that she has happy dreams. Sometimes I ask her what she dreams about and she does try to tell me.

One time her aunt Brittany (who Briannah and her sister Rosannah call Aunt Birney) babysat them one day and I watched the girls the following morning. When I asked Briannah what she dreamed about she tried to tell me something about princesses and Aunt Birney. I didn’t understand the whole story, but it did seem like a pleasant nocturnal experience for her.

I did not have happy dreams until well into middle age. It seemed my sleep was littered with a mish mash of the day’s events and threats of natural disasters – particularly tidal waves. Fortunately I lived most of my life in Arizona so this was not a serious threat in my awakened state. But just to make sure I don’t have any other watery disasters I usually wake up to pee at 2 a.m.

Last night I had a dream about playing basketball. I tried to make a shot and the ball fell embarrassingly short. I remember thinking that my upper body strength was in dire need of exercise. This is true in real life too, but I don’t need try to shoot hoops to recognize this obvious fact. However, I was tenacious in my dream, practiced a few layups and finally made a shot from the free throw line by executing the granny shot maneuver. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.

Next I decided to work on my vertical jump. This is laughable, so I’m glad my slumbered state was kinder than reality. In my dream I had the ball, squeezed my eyes shut, let the energy well forth from my body, then I shot a couple feet into the air. Then I stopped. Yes, in mid air I hovered in one spot. However, rather than falling back to the ground like any good Newtonian-believing mortal, I slowly, but effortlessly rose the rest of the way to the ceiling. Being the cocky little being I am in my dreams, I touched coup on the ceiling every time (because I could.)

This is counter to my thoughts and actions in real life where I believe you have to use tremendous effort and never backslide. And being vertically challenged, it is a rare ceiling that has been touched by my stubby, little fingers.

The problem was the time between when I willed myself into the air, stopped and continued the effortless part of my ascent, took a couple of seconds. This was still a lot of fun, but if I was going to block any shots, I was going to have to make the whole process one, smooth move.

Fortunately, after a few attempts I was not only able to do this jump vertically, I could do a gravity-bending side to side maneuver as well. I was defying gravity, blocking shots and dunking the ball with ease. Woohoo!
I don’t know where that dream came from. I’m 5 foot 2 inches tall, middle aged, haven’t touched a basketball in years. I need only look at my chest to realize that I, nor my body parts, can defy gravity. But it was a cool dream none the less.

After I woke up I thought that the dream symbolized balancing effort (revving my internal engine) and letting go of the urge to want to control everything and creating an opportunity for the universe to work a little magic.

As I shift into my daily routine today I can’t say that I feel compelled to shoot hoops or jump in the air. But I have to admit, the ceiling looks a lot lower today than it did yesterday.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bouginvillea Blossoms Reach Out And Touched Someone

One of the most gratifying aspects of writing the Erase Negativity blog is when something I wrote has a positive impact on someone. This comment was the result of an article I wrote that was also posted on the internet. The writer asked to remain anonymous but gave permission to print the message and the picture. If you want to read the article you can visit

Recently, I typed in" bougainvillea" and looked at all the sites, and that's how I came upon your article. My brother, age 55, just died from a horrible cancer. He was very proud of his potted bougainvillea plant and always pointed it out when I visited.

I have been getting blossoms in the most unusual places around my yard, and one in my garage, and I feel that that is a way he is contacting me. There are plants around my neighborhood, as I live in Miami, Fl. where there are so many!, and there is one a block and a half away with the same fuchsia color, but no other yards have had them "fly" into their yards, as I do check for that.

Anyway, reading your article brought such joy to me, the way you described giving up and letting the blossoms fall and move where they want.
Getting all those blossoms for several days really has made me happy, and I have been bringing them in my house as a remembrance. (I know they are a pain to grow, so I don't want to actually grow one in my yard)

I will look in to buying your book, as I do have a little negative predisposition. If I hadn't looked up bougainvillea on the internet I would never have known about your book or website.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mowing is a Pain in the Grass

The sun peaked out from behind a cloud. A sudden burst of excitement and initiative ignited within me. Normally a shining sun would have been something I took for granted, but since my recent move from Arizona to the Pacific Northwest, I knew I had to act quickly.

It was time to mow the lawn.

I went to the garage and yanked out the extension cord. The orange electrical snake was a tangled mess.

“I don’t remember packing it that way,” I muttered to myself.

It’s the same reaction I have when I bring out the Christmas tree lights. There is no telling what naughty things cords do when placed in boxes and left unsupervised. Is this how they mate?

However, rather than try to solve this universal mystery (second only to what happens to all the missing socks from the dryer) I decided to literally make hay while the sun shines. I pulled out the grass catcher. After several attempts, I gave up on how to get the grass catcher to work. It had been more than a decade since I mowed the lawn (due to desert landscaping and not willful neglect.) Finally I remembered that I NEVER could figure out how the darn thing worked. The answer to that mystery left with my ex¬¬ husband.

“Oh well,” I thought. “I’ll just mow and rake afterward.”

I mowed about six inches and the cord disconnected. This was the first of 86 disconnections, 157 swear words from me and 4,682 snickers from my new neighbors. The cord in the wall outlet worked fine, but the prong on the outlet in the handle of the mower was bent and came loose easily.

I suppose I could have taken the time to fix the problem, but after experiencing the fickle nature of Washington weather, I figured I better trudge ahead. Part of my concern was my environmentally-friendly electric mower does not have a lot of power. In the past I had neglected my lush Arizona lawn for a week and when I tried to mow through my backyard jungle, the engine overheated and caught fire (true story.)

With no money, no mower and more grass than ever, I was forced to ask my sister, Tina, if I could borrow her machine. This seemingly innocuous contraption was later dubbed, “The Beast.” The first problem started when I tried to get “el pain-in-the-grass” into my mini van. Neither Tina, my friend, Andrea, (who came along to assist) nor I are weight lifters, so this took some doing. However, after much laughing, crying and swearing, we finagled the mower into the van. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the door to close. So, in my aggravation (and impatient desire to get my grass cut) I had Andrea drive the van and I sat on the floor, held onto the seat with one hand and The Beast with the other.

Once we unloaded the mower at my house (thankfully only a mile away) we faced the next problem. I pulled and pulled on the starter cord, but the engine would not engage. Assuming my arm was weak from the drive, Andrea gave it a shot. She tugged until she pulled a muscle in her shoulder. My friend and roommate, Vanessa, also took her turn with the beast and wounded her arm (and pride) in the process. However, it finally started, I mowed the lawn and somehow returned The Beast back to Tina. On payday I bought another lawn mower.

Because I could get an environmental rebate from my utility company, I bought the exact same model electric mower as I had before. In retrospect, this is akin to breaking up with someone and asking if they have an identical twin you can date.

But I digress. Back to my Washington lawn.

I would mow, replug the cord, stop, toss the cord out of my way, mow, stop, make sure that the lump of brown stuff was mud and not a deposit from a former canine resident, mow, stop, replug again, swear and start the process all over.

Then I tried to mow uphill. I don’t know who is weaker, me or my electric mower. It was 40 degrees outside and I was sweating more than I did in the desert. I tried changing the direction of my mowing, getting a head of steam and trying to run up the hill, and finally just mowing downhill (the cord kept disconnecting anyway, so what the heck.)

Finally, the job was done. And a good thing too, as the sun disappeared and the rain fell on my newly mowed yard.

So what is the morale of this story you may ask? Does this anecdote depict the importance of perseverance, the value of overcoming obstacles, or something more mundane like the benefits of hiring a lawn service?

I’ll let you, dear reader, decide for yourself.

I just know that when I woke up the next day, gazed out the front window to admire the handiwork of my newly mowed lawn, I had only one insightful thought.

“Oh my gosh, that grass looks like a bad haircut!”