Archive for September, 2012

Let Go of My Ego

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

This blog is dedicated to my friend Sally O’Malley Whitten Lara. 

As a long time friend of my mother’s, Sally has always been a part of my life since I can remember.  Mazatlan, carpools, St. Francis, weddings and breast cancer, she has been there.  Not only do we share a similar hairdo, as a breast cancer survivor herself, she has been an inspiration, sending me encouraging cards and thoughtful gifts throughout my own battle, lifting my spirits when I was low, giving me hope and strength to keep going. 

Sally, now facing cancer again, is the pure personification of the archetypal figure and stock character of the gorgeous wise woman in which I dedicate this blog. 

This is for you Sally!

Sally in bright orange front right

The other night, while sitting around the dinner table discussing the merits of long hair vs. short hair, Maggie said, “Mom, whenever a guy used to flirt with you, I would give him the evil eye and he would look away.  I don’t have to do that anymore, because they don’t look anymore.” 

Ouch.  That hurt. 

But, Maggie is right.  Men don’t look at me like they used to, unless they are over 50 or European.  It seems I am bit of a conundrum to them these days.

But, it is not true of women.  Women of all ages and nationalities seem to love me, or shall I say love my hair.  They stop me in the grocery store, on hiking trails, at school, and at coffee houses, to tell me, “I love your hair,” or “You are so brave, I have always wanted to wear my hair short, but I am too afraid.”  

Just the other day while getting a pedicure, the Vietnamese women asked me, “Are you a model?”  Then, at Mother’s Market, a woman asked, “Who does your hair?”  She was shocked to find out that I do it myself.  I use my husband’s clippers, No #3 on the sides and #8 on top. 

And, to top it all off, a very brazen lesbian at the International Orange Festival stopped me to compliment my short cut.  After we chatted a bit, I told her that I had breast cancer.  She then asked, “Can I give you a hug.” 

“Of course,” I replied.  She gave me a very big long hug.  In fact, she wouldn’t let go.

I love my hair, it’s empowering.  And, I love that so many women love my hair.  That’s empowering as well.  Not only do I like the way it looks and how it makes me feel, my short silver strands represent the new me, the reinvented me, the Deanne after cancer me, rising from the rubble. 

Me with my short silver cut

 

Raundi, Deanne, Savanah and coconuts at Doheny Days

But, there are moments, I confess, that I miss my long golden brown locks.  Because with it, came a glance from a handsome young guy in the car next to me, a door being opened for me or a flirtatious “hello.”  Not only did it make me feel good, it fed that ego of mine.  And, I admit, I have a big ego. 

Me, before cancer with long golden brown locks.

But, today, I have learned that it is more important to feed my soul than my ego, accept me for me and wear my natural silver hair with pride. 

“There is a difference between fleeting ego happiness and souls long term contentment…Know the difference and you will find your peace.”…Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women seem to know this about me, as if I am now a part of some sisterhood, especially the older generation.  These women, eccentric and peculiar, odd but familiar, their bodies tattered but their souls pure.  They are our mothers and grandmothers, our old wives, worn but wise.  With their hips wide, stretched from giving life, breasts famished from nourishing new generations, and hands withered from both cleaning and caressing, they let go of their ego a long time ago.  They are absolute unconditional soul and seem to have found some resemblance of peace.    

It seems Harold was on to something when he fell in love with Maude.

We can learn much from this women archetype.  They are the crones, the stock character, the wise woman of myths and fairytales.  In the old myths, these women represented wisdom, nourishment and life.  Unfortunately, our modern fairytales have warped their image into the power hungry queen or decrepit old woman.  With warts on their noses, cursing us with deadly apples and candy houses, we have learned to be afraid and avoid them. 

This is not a surprise, of course, since our modern culture worships youth, beauty and skinny jeans.  We love the Aphrodite’s of the world.  It is almost an addiction, defining ourselves based on our looks rather than our talents.  As Germaine Greer says in her book, The Whole Woman, “Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful.”

I could grow my hair out.  I could color it.  But, I won’t.  Not now any way.  I would be saying grace to the wrong goddess.  No, I will keep my silver strands, avoid the harsh chemicals and learn to let go of my ego.  I will not deny Hera, the strong and wise queen. 

These women, these beautiful wise women, they know something that we don’t (or we are just tapping into).  Whether they went through the pains and joys of life or sat back and watched, they have much to bring to the table besides roast beef, mashed potatoes and apple pie.  We just need to listen.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called “44 Going on 16.”  Today, it would be entitled “46 Going on 65” as I learn the ways of the unconventional shrewd crone.

So, not only is this blog about my continued work in transforming “me” from an ego driven life to soul driven.  It is dedicated to the Aunt Mildred’s, Grandma Mac’s and Sally O’Malley Whitten Lara’s of the world.  It is in honor of my mother and yours.  It is in celebration of the old crones, the archetypal dangerous old woman, the Hera’s and the Maude’s.  It is to pay homage to every laugh line, age mark and gray hair.  It is to show respect for every stretch mark, cesarean scar and varicose vein.  It is to understand every mistake, every sacrifice and every human being brought to life by these radiant women!  I am in awe of you as I strive to become more like you!  Thank you!

Shining Eyes

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

 I wrote an article recently that was published in the Fall issue of the California Homeschooler Magazine about passion.  Pursuing my passions, my art, the things that make me get out of bed each morning (besides carpool) and make my heart beat double time are on the top of my priority list these days.  So, it seemed like a good thing to post my article and pass on to all of you what I have been learning.  

Shining Eyes

Passion, what is it exactly?  And, how does one get it?  Are you born with passion or is it developed and nurtured over time?  Can you get it like the chicken pox or does each of us have a special calling? I can’t seem to find any hard data that answers these questions but there are a lot of people with strong opinions on the subject.

Maya Angelou believes, “every person is born with talent.”  Ernest Hemmingway said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”  And William Shakespeare wrote, “…some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” 

From my own experience, it seems there are some people in this world that are innately drawn to certain things such as physics, writing, sports, music or fashion.  Like when Lady Gaga sings, ““My fashion is part of who I am, and though I was not born with these clothes on, I was born this way.”  But, do you have to be born this way?  Can you learn to love fashion?

I can’t help to wonder where my kids fit in on all of this when it comes to their musical passion.  All three of them are pursuing music in one way or another.  After many years of homeschooling, Riley is a remarkable bass player and now is taking on the stand-up bass.  Casey has been accepted into the commercial music conservatory at Orange County High School of the Arts for his drumming and Maggie, still homeschooling, is taking voice lessons and is the lead singer of Maggie and the Maggots.  In fact, all of them are in a band and all of them seem to have music flowing through their veins.

 

Music runs in the veins of both my family and my husband’s family as well.  My dad put himself through college playing in a rock ‘roll band during the 1950’s.  He currently plays in a jazz band and teaches bass lessons to a new generation.  My Mother-in-law has a master’s in music, directed many choirs over the years and currently plays the organ at her local church.  All of our siblings sing or play in one form or another. 

And, me, I love music.  It is a part of me.  I do not go a day without listening to Balkan Beat Box, The Civil Wars, Foo Fighters or the Black Keys.  I sing along to it in the car and dance to it as I clean the house.  I go to concerts, own a nice selection of CD’s and vinyl, and I am the lead singer in a rock n’ roll band. 

 

So, do I have a music gene?  What about my kids?  Do they have a music gene?  Or did our parent’s love for music rub off on us? 

I ran across a TED Talk on passion and music while looking for some answers.  And, I am truly excited about what I learned. 

First, let me begin by telling you, although I love music, I do not like classical music.  I have never liked it.  It was never played in my home while growing up.  It reminds me of elevator music or the Lawrence Welk Show.  I made a few attempts over the years to enjoy it but to no avail.  It just simply did not resonate with me; until now.   

Benjamin Zander, a world renowned conductor, teacher and speaker changed everything for me.  On his TED Talk he claims that he can turn all of us non-believers of classical music into believers.  He was right.  He did it to me.  I now have a new appreciation for classical music.  In fact, immediately after watching his talk, I was on a mission to get my hands on Chopin.

How did he do it?  How did Benjamin Zander, a conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, get a rock n’ roll mama to love a 19th century romantic composer? 

  • First of all, Zander believes that classical music is for everyone.  If someone does not like classical music, “They just haven’t found out about it yet,” he says.  I couldn’t agree more.  He opened doors to an unknown world for me, taught me things I did not know, and made me feel like somehow I am now privy to something I did not think was for me. 
  • Second, he does not waiver in his beliefs.  Zander believes, “It’s one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming.”  His stanch belief in me made me believe in me. 
  • And, last but not least, his enthusiasm is contagious.  You can feel his passion.  His eyes light up and he almost bursts out of his skin when he talks about it.  You can feel his passion rub off on you and your own eyes begin to light up just like his.  He says his job is to “awaken possibilities in other people.” He surely woke up something in me.

“If their eyes are shining, you know you are doing it,” Zander shares.  My eyes are shining.  He ignited a fire deep within me when I hear classical music and, like Zander I plan to pass this shiny goodness on to my kiddos.  This is the reason I took my kids out of school in the first place; shining eyes.  It is at the heart of homeschooling, unschooling, carschooling, clickschooling, etc.

So, are you born with a particular passion or is it learned?  It seems to me that Lady Gaga, Maya Angelou, Hemmingway and Shakespeare were all correct.  Yes, you are born with an innate interest or passion but you can also form and nurture passions, both inherent and new, throughout your life.  This is good news.  It means everyone can love classical music.  Everyone can have a passion or two or three.  Everyone can have shining eyes.  It is for you, it is for me, it is for our children.  All you need is a Benjamin Zander in your life.  Be a Zander for someone today.  Shining eyes people!  Shining eyes! 

Check out Benjamin Zander at:  http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html

Happy Birthday Acrostic

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Last night, my friend Angela surprised me for my birthday.  She read a poem she wrote especially for me at Vinatero’s “Open Mic” Poetry Night, hosted by Eric Morago, a very gifted poet.  

I want to share it with all of you, because, I was truly grateful to know that sharing my story, my heartbreaks, my disappointments, my triumphs and my achievements were actually making a difference in people’s lives; and, because, she made me cry.  It takes a lot to make me cry in public.  In fact, when it was my time to read, my eyesight was blurred from tears. 

My sight may have been a bit obscured last night, BUT my vision was crystal clear: 

To keep writing my blog, keep reading at open mic’s, and keep working on my book and sharing my story with all of you.  Why?  Because, my story is your story and your story is mine.  Whether its breast cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, addiction or any other trial one has to face in this day and age, we are all in this together.  No man or woman is an island. 

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee…John Donne 

Thank you Angela!!!! 

Angela with hubby Chris

 Without further adieu…

 Happy Birthday Acrostic for Deanne

by Angela Moore

Halo – You wear your hair like a silver halo.  Not the holier than thou kind, but the kind that illuminates from within and enlightens those in your presence.

Adventurous – Beat Cancer?  Sure.  Share your story with the world?  Ok.  Walk for three days straight in order to give back?  Why not!  In your own words, you “always have a new adventure in the works.”

Party – Weather we’re singing together or just having tea, you make getting together something to celebrate.

Parent – You’re a living example of a kind, patient and loving parent.  You also show grace and forgiveness to yourself and others when we fall short of our ideals.

Yourself – Not only are you yourself, but when yourself was no longer serving you, you went and reinvented yourself.

 

Brave – Breast.  Blogger.  You faced the bogeyman and kicked his ass!

Inspire – You inspire me to be healthy, to appreciate my loved ones, and to live life to its fullest.

R – I’m gonna borrow a word from our friend Raundi, Rad.  Just because you are Rad.

Thankful – Through your ups and downs.  And, no matter how low the downs have been, you show gratitude for the lessons learned.

Hungry – Hungry for life.  Hungry for passion.  Hungry for more.  And, you follow your hunger’s lead and take a bite out of life.

Diana – Donning diaphanous gowns, getting in touch with your inner wild woman, it’s no coincidence that your named after the Roman Goddess of wildness and nature.

Alabanza – Another word I’m borrowing, this time from the musical, “In the Heights.”  Alabanza means to raise the thing to God’s face and to sing quite literally, “praise to this.”

Yes Mom

 

PS.  I am actually named after my dad’s ex-girlfriend.  As Maggie would say, “I know, right!?”