Can’t See For Looking

Have you heard that old-fashioned saying before?

My Dad used to use it both as a motivator and as a reminder, and I heard it a lot when I’d work side by side with him as his tool runner.

He’d be building or fixing something, tearing something apart, or climbing something and he’d realize he needed a particular tool but didn’t have it with him, and that’s where I came in.

He’d describe what he needed – I eventually did learn the names of everything –  he’d tell me where he thought it was, and then he’d wait somewhat patiently while I tore off to the shed or to the garage or onto one of his trucks to retrieve it.  The plan was that I’d quickly retrieve it and run it back to him.

Plan notwithstanding, here’s how it usually went.

Invariably, I’d listen intently, then invariably, I’d run to where he told me to go to find it, then invariably, I couldn’t find it then, invariably, I’d run back to him, telling him it wasn’t there.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Then he’d have the Italian version of a bat-shit-crazy fit, then he’d take me to the very place I’d just two or three times gone to on my own, and right the fuck there it would be.

Then he’d say “you can’t see for looking.”

He’s been dead since 1993 and I still can’t see for looking.

Can't see for looking.
Can’t see for looking.

On Saturday morning, I woke up on fire, in a very very good way. It felt like the whole world was brand new and all mine.  I made my usual 6 shots of espresso, dumped them over ice and launched my day.

I had planned some super challenging creative work for myself and whenever I do that, I like to perform this silly little ritual that helps me feel like I’ve got a clean slate, a fresh start, nothing held over – I power down all my computers the night before, giving them – and symbolically me – a clean break by letting my little vintage single wide junkyard jewelbox unwind until we’re completely, electronically detached, until we reach complete pixel tranquility, until we come to a full stop.  I love when we do that.

So my first task on Saturday morning was to fire everything back up and when I did, for some reason, on launch, my fastest, main Mac didn’t recognize my trackpad.

Never fear, I restarted.  But still no trackpad.

I troubleshot my bluetooth settings and was able to successfully recognize the track pad, just not complete the connection to it.

I tested and replaced the batteries in the trackpad.

And then I restarted the computer again.

And then I changed my approach.

I have a trackball – remember those? – that I keep for just these types of situations and, praise the Gods, I’d used the trackball just last week, mere days ago.  All I had to do to begin was find the trackball.

 

Find the trackball.

Find the trackball.

FIND THE TRACKBALL.

But I couldn’t find the trackball.

I couldn’t find the trackball in any of the logical places where I keep things like that – tech and gadget storage boxes –  so I performed a military style “hard target search” (which is also a sort of the same house cleaning strategy used by the big national house cleaning/maid services) where I started up high at one end of the office and worked my way around, then moved down a swath and circled back around.

Over and over and over again until I was on the fucking floor like an infant just figuring out how to crawl, kneeling and reaching in and behind everything and I was down there so long, and on CONCRETE, that I aggravated my patellar tendonitis – thank you, fireworks behind my knee cap – and about 90 minutes in, I just gave up, sat at my desk, went through the start up process one more time, and when the computer launched perfectly – as it always does – I went through the bluetooth discovery process one more time, and this time I held down the “find me, you motherfucker” button on the trackpad extra hard and extra long, and this time, you motherfucker, it worked.

I didn’t need the trackball after all.

My day was still perfect, I roared through all manner of creative endeavor and I was super super happy even though I still had no idea where my trackball was.

 

Today, sitting at the very same desk, working in the very same set up, I look at my keyboard for what must be the bazillionth time, and what do I see?

The trackball.

Where is it?

Right in front of me.

Why couldn’t I find it Saturday?

Because I can’t see for looking.

Still.

PS I miss my Dad.

 

Can’t See For Looking

Brain Science & You & Me

What used to be my screened porch is now a real 4-season room, and I’ve moved my office and art studio into it, and my new “Sun Room” is so big that I was finally able to move my library out of storage and arrange it neatly at my fingertips.  Talk about luxury!

In going through one of my favorite books, containing all my treasured correspondence with my figure skaters, I found this.

 

Holly Larson Letter.Brain Science

 

Laura Harris’ mom told me to write to Laura and tell her this story, and to be sure to give her Holly’s info.  As soon as Laura Harris received this letter, she got in touch, and because she is such a “giver,” she gave Holly and her family the gift of a weekend at Campbell’s.

Holly recovered fully, although it took years.

I’m still in touch with Holly, her sister Hayley and her mother Doris, we were all Facebook friends right up until I left Facebook and now that I’m Facebook-free, they know right where to find me if they ever want to talk, Skype hang or visit.

Moral of the story: be guided by your genuine interest in others, ask a ton of questions, help everyone you can, any way you can, and the more you learn about how our brains work, the more powerful your help will be.  And don’t worry about typographical errors, unimportant things like that will never mess with your flow.

If you’d like to learn more about the research based on the effectiveness of living and working this way – of being a “smart giver” like me – read this:

Cover of Give and Take by Adam Grant

 

 

Have questions or need help?

I’m right here.

+1 206 963 0755

educationconspiracy@gmail.com

Brain Science & You & Me

Gone So Long

As I watched NFL playoff games yesterday, I was rooting for the underdog Dallas Cowboys. It was a thrilling game, one of the best in NFL history, and as I watched, matching my understanding of athletic performance with play by play analysis from the experts, I realized that one of the reasons I love watching football is because of I used to watch sports on television with my father and grandfather.

My dad died on a Tuesday in November of 1993 and we watched NFL football, specifically a Cowboys game, the Sunday before he died.  And the Sunday before that.

As a little girl, I remember sitting in my grandfather’s lap after my evening bath, with him drying my wet hair, while watching boxing.

The thing is, while watching the Cowboys game yesterday I realized I couldn’t remember if Daddy rooted for or against America’s Team.  He’s been gone so long that I can’t remember his Cowboy preference and I’m certain that I’ve lost track of countless other details that made Daddy Daddy.

But that doesn’t really matter.  All that DOES matter is a little bit of Daddy and Poppa are still mixed up inside my heart and in my head.

I think this is what smart people mean when they teach us that all that matter is love.

 

Gone So Long

The Opportunity of Tragedy

There’s no shortage of tragedy in today’s world and, sometimes, tragedy comes and gets us right where we live, it comes into our lives, and it can shatter our hearts, it can make us afraid, bitter, mean or detached.

Here’s a blueprint for a way to transmute tragedy into peace, strength and confidence.

Listen to this to learn about how my childhood friend, Ann Hounchell, informs my every day life, and especially my work.

 

ann-hounchell-collage

 

And yes, that’s me in the back row over Ann’s right shoulder.

 

Questions or need help?

I’m right here.

M: +1 206 963 0755

educationconspiracy@gmail.com

The Opportunity of Tragedy

White Hair | Just Do It

If you’re like me, you’ve spent thousands of dollars on your hair.

If you’re like me, you’ll eventually stop doing that.

Maybe reading this will accelerate your hair color full stop.

 

Here’s me from high school.  I’m a blonde and although I have an absolute ton of hair, it’s really fine so it’s slinky but it’s got a bit of natural curl when it’s short enough to not be pulled straight by its own weight.

natural-blonde

 

In my early 50s, I started messing around with the color of my hair.

For a few years, I had stripes of color put into my hair – 1″ swaths alternating blonde, burgundy, dark brown and a bunch of black underneath in the back.

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img_6703

 

img_9848

I started having chunks cut into it so that bunches of it was shorter than the rest, sort of stacking layers instead of the traditional shag cut.

I don’t think anybody completely gets away with doing such unnatural color stuff like that so I wasn’t really surprised when my long-time stylist over-processed my blonde TWICE and – shocker! – all the blonde broke off and even though I suggested cutting it all off and starting over, my stylist convinced me to try and save my hair.

Good thing I love a challenge because things got worse – by a lot –  before they got better.

 

Red is the hardest color to cover/recover so my stylist decided the hair equivalent of “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and made all my hairs red.  Nooooooo!  But yes.

20131105_173005

Take a moment to fully appreciate the ratty scorched brittle ends.

20131105_172946See the ghosts of the stripes?

 

I broke up with that stylist and took my ratty, brittle mess of a red mop on an expensive, self-esteem challenging daisy chain of a wild goose chase through a series of under-performing, confused and technically incompetent stylists before – happy ending! – I found, all on my own, a true hair genius who not only knew exactly what to do, but she specialized in doing it.

I spent almost 18 months in the hair hospital and thanks to the combination of a genius stylist – let’s call her the Hair Doctor – and her use of miraculous products from Organic Color Systems, I began to recover.  Specifically, big product credit goes to OCS products Revamp and Moisture Boost.

NOTE: I know you want to know who the Hair Doctor is, and you know I’d tell you if I could but I can’t because both with me and with others I’ve sent to her, she’s proven unreliable in critical hair-centric circumstances, and she’s behaved unprofessionally, and because of that, I can no longer recommend her.

Back to my hair recovery plan.

My Hair Doctor set out a treatment plan that included me coming into her salon 3 – 4 times a month for her to fashion mini-intensive care units around my most damaged swaths. Eventually, me and my hair recovered.

 

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And after my hair completely recovered, was dyed milk chocolate brown and was long, silky and shiny again,

 

 

 

Girly Hair

 

I cut it all off and went back to my native color which, Holy Mother of Jesus, is still some shade of blonde only now, in the front around my face it’s mostly what they call platinum and the rest of it is what they call ash blonde.  In the estimation of my current stylist – best so far, total genius, complete professional – this is my version of gray hair.

 

platinum-mohawk

I am finally free from dependence on the salon because with $30 clippers, I can shave down my own sides, and using office scissors, I can hack the top so it’s heavy enough to flop, just so, when I spike it up.

NOTE: Ears and noses continue to grow.  Look how huge my ears are!  #shutupmontana  Look how huge my nose is!  #toastisburningidaho

 

Do you color your hair to cover gray?

Do you WANT to color your hair to cover gray?

Here’s commentary on the shift in cultural norms that will, hopefully, free you to think more openly about “White Hair, Don’t Care.”

 

My friend Trina has what can only be called “Miss America Hair” and she says, so many people “believe the lie” that stylists tell us about growing out our natural color.  The NYT piece “White Hair, Don’t Care” includes an at-home recipe for recovering your own natural color, your own natural self.

 

If you’re ready for a more natural you, go for it.  And send me pictures of you all along the way.

 

 

White Hair | Just Do It

Destabilized? Love Your Way Through It

me-popa

My grandfather died a few days after he had surgery on some veins in his leg.  During the surgery, a blood clot formed when they tied off his femoral artery for more than 3 hours, and, while the surgery was technically successful, it took a few days for the blood clot to make its way through his system and hit his heart or lungs, or maybe his brain. We’ll never know exactly what the clot hit, only that it hit some vital organ causing powerful and grotesque convulsions followed by almost immediate death.

Popa died while Mom and I were visiting him in his hospital room, and we were all watching The Honeymooners on his hospital room TV.  Mom was sitting in a chair near his bed and I was laying to his right in the bed bedside him, I had my left arm around his neck and he was holding my right hand.  When Popa began convulsing, Mom wasn’t able to hold herself together so, as nurses rushed into the room to help Popa, some of them tended to Mom by getting her out of there.

Because of me being in the bed with him and because of the configuration of the bed in the room, I was trapped beside him as hospital nurses tried to revive him.   For about 20 minutes.

After I called off the efforts to resuscitate him, the nurses helped me escape his “death grip” on my right hand and wrist, and I dealt with some paperwork out at the nurse’s station.  I went to check on Mom who was in a room down the hall and, after being sedated, was asleep.

After that, there was nothing more to be done at the hospital.

Within about 30 minutes of Popa dying, I left the hospital and began to let down.  I sat in my car for a few minutes wondering what to do next..  It’s one of the most bizarre feelings ever and one I experienced again after the deaths of both Mom and Daddy – just a few minutes after someone you adore dies, you’re supposed to get on with the task of living without them.

Where am I supposed to go and who am I supposed to be with?

Mom’s indisposed, Daddy’s not an option because he just doesn’t do this type of emotion plus he’s at my parents’ home cooking which is what Italians do when someone dies, my sister was not at the hospital visiting Popa when he died – Mom and I were – and she’s riding this out with her family which I’m not part of.

I didn’t want to go back to my flat and be alone so I went to my friend Roseanne’s house, she and I worked together and we were close.

She was older than me by about 10 years, she was big, happy, beautiful, smart and she had a boyfriend who had a rubber fetish.  It was pretty common for her to come home from work and find him sitting on top of the dining room table which he would cover in a rubbery plastic table cloth, he’d be wearing rubber pants – the kind you’d wear for incontinence – and a plastic shower cap.   Arriving unannounced, I knew I ran the risk of interrupting something I’d spend the rest of my life trying to unsee, but I was undeterred.

I got to her place, knocked on the door, she answered and I just lost it.

I sputtered out the words to tell her that Popa had just died, I started sobbing and I just sort of fell into the front of her big beautiful body, throwing my arms around her and hanging off her, like I might not be able to stand up on my own anymore.

She stepped forward onto the stoop, backing me up a step or two.  She put her hands on my shoulders and moved me even farther back, and then she said . . .

We have company, you can’t stay.

Oh.  Okay.

So I left.

I sat in my car and here’s how I felt.

I’m alone in this and there isn’t anybody to help me.   I’m broken all the way down and I need and want help but help is not available so I’m going to have to manage this by myself. I’m going to have to pull myself together.

When I tried to think of what I for sure had that might help me feel like I could get through it, the only things I could come up with were my faith in myself, and my faith in God, and at the very bottom of my faith was love.

Essentially, my strategy for dealing with the immense grief of how I experienced my grandfather’s death was for me to love my way through it.  Love is what helped me start my car and safely drive it to my flat.  Love is what helped me get through losing Popa, what helped me deal with the graphic nature of seeing how he died and love is what helped me find a way to neutralize the way he last held me.

Were there other options?  Of course.

What’s the opposite of love?

Being angry wasn’t an option – I could never have produced enough rage to come close to expressing my devastation.

Could I have found someone else, anyone else, who would have ministered to me in that moment, who would have prioritized my needs over theirs?  Maybe.  But after the initial shock of Roseanne not being able to help, I realized it was tremendously unfair to blind side someone with such enormous emotion.  In that moment, I accepted that I couldn’t rely on others to help me offload that or any other trauma that might come my way so, really, when you think about it that way, what else is there but love?

In the 45+ years since Popa’s death supercharged my ability to love, when shit gets real I’ve never relied on anybody to help me and I’ve never expected access to assistance.

I’ve gone through surgeries alone, I’ve been really really sick alone, I’ve spent birthdays and holidays alone, and I’ve continued to lose loved ones and go through the aftermath alone.  I work alone.  I live alone.  I am alone.  But I’m full of love, and I love being alone.  See how that works?

And I’ve become quite practiced in applying the “love technique” across domains.

That’s the really cool thing about love – everybody wants it, everybody needs it, and every single situation you can imagine goes so much better with love, love, love.

Since Trump won, I’ve doubled down on love.

Here’s why.

Since Trump won, for the first time average Americans know first hand what it’s like to have a country powerfully emotionally divided.  Since Trump won, we all know and love a bunch of people who completely disagree about big, important, life-changing and world-changing issues.

Many of our friends feel destabilized by the disruption candidate winning and many of our friends feel destabilized by the disruption candidate disrupting – Hello Taiwan!   Many of our friends feel boastful about their candidate winning – “lock her up” “drain the swamp” and defensive about the relentless attacks on Trump that come from pretty much all directions.

Politics in America has become an angry emotional mess and with the holidays coming up, our normally high stress levels are red lining.

What’s the answer?  What’s the fix?  What’s the solution?  How do we cope?  How can we manage?

Love. Love. Love. Love.

Please join me in unabashed, unapologetic, undeniable love of everyone.

IT’S A BUMPERSTICKER!

bumper-sticker

If you’d like one, PayPal me $15 domestic/$20 international, provide your postal address and I’ll mail one to you.  My PayPal email address is rebecca@rebeccaleone.com.

Loving everybody is the answer, I promise.

I love you.

Destabilized? Love Your Way Through It

I’m Next

Let’s talk about what I call the “presumed order of death.”

If everything goes really well and things follow the presumed order of death, our grandparents die first, then hopefully many, many, many years later, our parents die, and then hopefully many, many, many, many years later, we die.

Daddy died in 1993.

Mom died in 2008 – 8 years ago today.

I’m next.

mom-and-dad-hipsters

Here’s how I imagine Mom and Daddy in the great hereafter, their bodies young and perfect, restored to being the hipsters they were.

I know I’m next, but I also know that I’m still very much alive.

And on fire.

And in love with every moment of every day.

 

I miss Mom and Daddy but . . . I’ll be right along.

 

PS  The order of death is randomly jumbled, leaving us without a shred of certainty about anything other than how we manage ourselves in response to the complete randomness of everything including the death order.  Cheers!

 

 

I’m Next