Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Task and Art of Repaving a Path

I have been noticing a lot of road construction recently. Tearing up roads, pouring down tar, the big rollers smoothing over the tar, all in the blazing sun. You wonder if this is what hell could be like. I mean, heat, on heat, then add some more heat.

That got me to thinking about life. And, how hard it is to start over. And looking at the path you are on. Trying to figure out if this is the right one or not. Or which one should I take? How should I narrow this down?

And, I realized, sometimes you don't have to completely take another road in life. It might be better to improve the road you are on first. Heck, you leave behind the road you were just on and, that road, well, could use some work.

I think re-paving a road is a lot harder than just abandoning the road and going off in another direction. It takes evaluation - how much damage needs to be repaired. It takes hard work - from the little patch up jobs to the complete destruction and re-building. It can be difficult - sweating it out, situations that are already very heated, pushing even further.

But, when you are done, when the road cools, you have something you can travel on again, smoothly. The small holes, the extra bits are gone. The road is lighter and you feel like you are flying. There is a quiet excitement, a newness, a self-confidence. You are now ready to take the next step in life.

So, please pardon the appearance, I am trying to repave my road. I'll let you know how it goes.

Got this IChing reading a bit ago - found it relevant to my feelings above:
60: Limits and Connections
Thursday, July 10th, 2008

General Meaning: Limits are necessary to give purpose and direction to life. Swimming in a sea of boundless opportunity would soon lead to exhaustion. Winging it alone in a sky of boundless opportunity would lead to being lost. In human affairs, the making of choices, and alliances, implies limitation, for in choosing one path another must be abandoned.

One key to a successful life is to select your limits consciously and carefully - to be discriminating in the setting of personal boundaries and knowing when to join in formation. Thrift, for example, often precedes prosperity; just as the letting go of selfish interests often leads to greater personal reward. Only by consciously accepting useful limits can one's energy be channeled to good purpose, and lead to lasting accomplishment.

Point yourself toward a middle way, the mean between discipline and freedom of spirit. Limits will come of their own accord; but to be able to consciously select your own affiliations in life - that's knowing how to fly! At the same time, do not go overboard on discipline. Even limitation must be limited, so that in attempting to bring order and direction into your life you do not choke off vital sources of enthusiasm and spontaneity.

Similarly, in groups and organizations, the rules and regulations should strike a balance between being too strict and too soft. If too strict, they build frustration among people, and ultimately become destructive. If too lenient, sloppiness becomes acceptable, and energy is soon dissipated. The best path is one which allows for the fulfillment of individual potential, while encouraging self-discipline and focus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Improving Health Through Shakes and Other Sordid Tales

Shakes? What?

I have so much to write about, but am very excited that I have made a step to improve my health!

OK - let me back track.

From 2005 to the end of 2006 I was using shakes as supplemental meals from Medifast. They were great tasting and gave you everything you needed - nutrition wise. These, along with exercise, got me down past my goal weight and down 3 sizes. I was happier than a pig in fat-free, low cal slop.

Uh, OK.

I still had a pretty fun and groovy lifestyle during this time. I would drink my shakes during the day and have one real small meal at some point during the day. I would still go out and have fun with my various friends (and lo and behold, be the incredibly cheap drunk). Eventually, I learned how to eat small meals over the course of a day, instead of one, two or five big meals.

Then, the holidays came in 2007 and the shows and the craziness. I was sporadically eating, sporadically partying and sporadically exercising.

Now 2008 is almost 1/2 way through and I am up XXlbs over my goal weight (no one needs to know that number). After hitting that mark, I realized I needed to embark back on my shakes to re-train myself how to eat again. I have also been doing more yoga and going to the gym more consistently.

Now, some of you might said - hey, have you heard about the Lemon aid cleanse, diet, insert whatever name here. I have and I hope to do it at some point. (Believe it or not, it is more expensive than the shake thing I am doing.)

It is very similar to stuff I have done in the past. And I did like the taste quite a bit (I tried a few sips when friends of mine that had been on the program.) Now, I haven't read a lot on it. I have learned about it from what my friends have told me. What I have noticed is:

You have a few days of feeling accomplishment, followed by mood swings and cravings, then you move into fatigue, then back to accomplishment and your body feeling more healthy, then you repeat one or two of the other steps, but feel stronger this time about it.

My shakes do the same thing in a way. I have found myself moody and craving weird things. But, I know that this will pass. It's like re-booting your system. And usually everything works a little better when you do re-boot.

A friend of mine said recently, that maybe America is ripe for a cut down on food intake. Not only have food prices risen, but with obesity related illnesses topping out health problems - almost over smoking related illnesses - it gives one thought for pause. Wait, I'm over weight and I am smoking. That made me say a yikes. And heck, maybe we do eat too much.

And, that brings me to another tale-the smoking. I have had people come up to me while I was smoking and say - I thought you were quitting, I read your blog. I am cutting down, not quitting, not yet. I'm not ready to quit yet. I really like having a cigarette and if I can keep the smoking down to a pack or 1/2 a pack a week, I don't see the total harm in it. 1/2 a pack a week is equal to breathing NYC air right?

With that said, I have changed my cutting down program a little. I am now concentrating on smoking only one pack a week. The once a week idea didn't really work. The last time I was doing that, I was at AMDA, much more broke than I am now (although, almost debt free) and between singing, dancing, acting classes, working 6 hours a day (after all the school), I didn't have a lot of time or money to enjoy the smokey treat.

And, smoking was a lot like enjoying a piece of candy back in those days. I don't run out and get a candy bar everyday, but ever so often. And, I hope I can find that enjoyment in the smoking again. Ever so often, wanting a nice puff off of a fine tobacco product. And, enjoying a chocolaty treat.

Monday, July 21, 2008

We Interupt This Regular Scheduled Blog To Say....

Isabeau Cope McClain has arrived! She was born July 3rd, 2008 at 10:20pm. She weighed 6 lb 13 oz, & was 20 inches long.

This is my friend AJ and her husband's Bobby new little child.

And, why is this so important - cause about 2 months ago we weren't sure she was going to make it. She being mother and child. Little Isabeau and Ms. AJ are both doing well.

She wrote a lovely and slightly horrifying story about the birth - I am asking her permission to re-publish here.


Sorry no pictures yet.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Quilt

My mom is making me a quilt.

I couldn't wait - I had to show it. It is the green and purple with masks on the brown bed spread.

My mom had been going to "quilters", what she calls the group, for about a year now or so. She never made anything. Just learned different stitches and how to make a quilt. But, didn't think she could afford to actually make one. Little known fact - quilting is a very expensive hobby.

Last year, my dad told her to just go out and buy the stuff and make a quilt. And, she did. She has been working on this one for almost a year. I think she was originally going to be making a baby quilt, but with no real prospect of grand children, she changed it to a quilt for me.

And, I am just tickled.

And proud.

Way to go mom! (I'll be getting it this Christmas. It is probably going into a quilting show first.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Helpful Hint From a DIY Mac Tech

OK, sort of.

First off, let me just say - I love my Mac. I really, really do. Most of the time it is the easiest thing in the world to work on and change things to work better and fix. And, almost always, I find the way to make it work. It's like owning a puzzle that you always figure out and this gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Or, I if all else failed, I would ask Scott.

Since Scott is no longer in the other room, I have to call and see if he can help. Or lean on someone else.

As most of you know, I don't like asking for favors. I really do try to do it myself. And, this one, folks, has taken me a year.

So, I had backed up my computer once I got my external hard drive by copying all the files from one location to my external hard drive. Once I did this, I noticed I had 2 copies of Windows Media Player on my computer, so I trashed one.

I went to empty my trash and darn it if the Windows Media Player was saying that it was locked. So, I went through all the folders and still, there were some hidden files that were locked.

Well, no worries, I'll just take it out of my trash and put it on my Desktop, empty my trash and put it back in.

Oh no.

It copied it to my Desktop and left a copy in the trash. Windows Media Player had become a bunny and started to reproduce as one would. By the end of my little experiment, I had 4 copies of WMP in my trash.

So, to empty my trash, I had to continually click the "OK" when prompted that I could not delete a file because it was locked. And, there were A LOT of these files - I found out later, about 80 per folder. I did however, end up practicing my drumming technique. On my interior mouse. On my laptop. This just simply would not do.

I went to a lot of reference sites and tried to figure this out. All of them said to do all this weird stuff, reboot in another mode, wipe the hard drive, chant the Dummy for Mac handbook over the computer. The responses were negative to people who had tried these suggestions. And some people found that they destroyed their lap top, lost all of their information and the damn thing still was in the trash.

I was not alone in my plight. It was not comforting however.

Eventually, I gave up and decided I would take it in to an Apple store or TechServ at some point.

Then, recently, I got fed up and decided to try again. The key was in unlocking all the files, which I thought I had done. So, I unlocked all the files again that were in the trash. Then, tried to unlock the program itself. It would not let me unlock it.

Light bulb.

My solution when the lockable is unlockable - rename the file and extension.

Which I did. I just put something like "asjidkfp" with no "." or extension after - the common pop up - are you sure - I clicked yes - and what it changed it into was beautiful. It changed the program into a folder. And, low and behold, in that folder was all the language files...that were...locked.

I began the task of plowing through all the folders then all the programs within those folders, unlocking everything. Click, Click, Apple A, Apple I, unlock, moving on. There were about 6 languages per program with 75 files that needed to be unlocked per. I worked for about 1/2 an hour and was finished. Was this actually going to work?

I slid my finger on the keypad to move my mouse up to empty the trash. Viola. The crinkle of paper after you have thrown out the trash on a MAC happened. I hadn't heard that sound in a year.

Ah. Success.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Grass Is Also Greener Here

Continuation of last post.

Day Six: Sleeping and Scanning
Got up just a tad too late to go running and just went with my mom to the Blue House. The people there are great! Great stories, good food, good coffee. And, it is the hangout in the morning of Carlsbad. In other words, all the cool kids go there. I wish I could repeat some of the conversations, but I believe in what's said at the Blue House, stays at the Blue House. :)

Day 7: Scanning and Swimming
So, yes, there was a lot of pics to scan - and they are all on my Picasa page now. I got up, went to the natitorium at the High School. Olympic sized swimming pool. Not messing around. I did about 8 laps with a little rest in between each one. Olympic sized - a lot longer than you think. I use the one at my gym and I can do 4 laps before needing a rest. Of course, then the Blue House.

Then, we went to Brantley Lake a little while later. There were bunnies! Well, hares or jack rabbits to be exact. But, cute bunnies! And road runners! I stuck my toe in, but really didn't do any swimming. After seeing a sign that the fish weren't edible from the lake - I pondered what was in that water.

From there we went to the gem show at the Living Desert State Park. Then, home. Where I ate my last green chili cheese burger for awhile and packed to go home.

I got up the next day, enjoyed breakfast at the Blue House - said goodbye to all the regulars and went to Roswell to take off (again, in a plane, not a spaceship). I had a 6 hour layover in Dallas, TX that I spent with my friend's fiancee, drinking margaritas and discussing their upcoming nuptials.

Then, back to this side of the fence.

I miss that pace of life sometimes. Still getting everything done, but just a little bit slower. Enjoying time with family. Enjoying leisure time. I decided a couple of days ago, that I needed some time off from theatre projects. So, the one I am currently working on will be the last until Blood Brother's Present.... starts up in August. I want to try to re-create, at least a piece of that relaxed sigh that I found myself doing from time to time.

And, look at some more of these - clouds.

The Southwest is Also Greener from the Other Side

I wanted to blog while I was on vacation, but, as is my life, things were continually busy. I did slow down to a steady hum (think of a humming bird slowing down to the pace of a sparrow). And, it was a nice excursion. So, instead of day journals - I will give you highlights.

Day one: Landing
After being up pretty much all night, I was received by my mom and her 2 friends - Irene and Kelly. We went to IHOP - mmmmm. Then, took off from Roswell to home. (Roswell, NM is where I landed - hahaha - gosh that town has gone from nice to big ole alien tourist trap.)

It was really weird walking into the house that day. The last time I was there, I was helping my mom get ready for my father's funeral. Here I was, for the first time, coming for a visit and it being one day before Father's Day. My father, gone. Pictures of him now replaced a lot of the other pictures that were hanging on the wall from the last time I was there. I went to take a shower later that day in my mother's room. His side of the room was just the same. A slight haze of dust laid over bits of it. His jeans were still hanging over the suit rack. His shoes lined up on the floor. His bedside table - everything still there, untouched. So, after my shower, I took some toilet paper and dusted things off. Looked at some of his books.

Day Two: Coping
Father's Day. Mom and I went to a Father's day brunch at one of the local bistros. It was buffet style. The food was really good, however, the presentation was that of a family reunion. Different dishes in different serving trays and bowls spread out on paper lace table cloths.

After that, got some flowers and went here.

Yup. This is how I spent my Father's Day. It looks really nice though. I couldn't have picked a better spot for him. I also looked at my mom's side of the marker. I told her that as creepy as it was to have that there, I was glad I would never have to worry about taking care of it. When she dies at the ripe old age of 110, I'll have nothing to worry about. She said, oh please don't let me live that long. :)

Day Three - Five: On the Road Again
After dealing with some business and a trip to my mom's favorite place to go to 6 times a week, The Blue House, we headed out for Lubbock, TX, where I was to see my father's sister, my aunt, and a whole slew of cousins (cousins of mine with children), most of which I hadn't seen in close to 15 years. One of them just graduated high school, in which case, I told him that I would be back around before he graduated college and apologized for not seeing him since he was in diapers, or something like that. His mother replied with - yeah, right, we'll see you again when he gets married. I do love family. They always tell you like they see and know you. :)

Then off to Santa Fe. Now, this whole trip was major driving. Three hours to Lubbock, TX, Five hours to Santa Fe, then Four and a 1/2 hours back to Carlsbad. In Santa Fe we stayed at a nice hotel, had a good meal, good drinks, went shopping, said hello to Marsha's uncle and I got to catch up with my good friend Kim. Then the driving. But all was made better by a Dairy Queen Chocolate Dipped Waffle Cone (they are not as good looking as they are on TV, but still very tasty). A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few thousand that I don't have to write:

Part 2... Coming Soon