Travels with Dogs, When Blogging Buddies Meet, Driving Toward Irene, and Happy Feet

Some of you have expressed concern as we wend our way east toward Irene, so I will start there. During the drive yesterday from Lexington, KY to Hazelton, WV the only indication of the deluge ahead were wispy clouds across the sky. We even had a gorgeous sunset.

Sunset begins.

Irene only stopped by to say “Hello” as I sat in the car with the dogs while Nathan checked us into the hotel. Suddenly the rain poured down like someone had overturned a bucket and the trees started to whip. I was glad we weren’t still driving, but the convenient timing really only led to a struggle getting Lizzy out of the car. She doesn’t do storms. We are going to hang around here until check out (about noon) in the hopes that we will drive behind the storm, rather than into it. We are only heading to Douglassville, PA today, so hopefully that won’t be too bad. I suspect our worse day of driving will be tomorrow, depending on if roads have been shut down or if there is any flooding on our route. I hope all of my friends witnessing this storm are safe.

Enough about Irene. I had the honor and privilege of meeting and spending the day with one of my favorite bloggers and her partner on Friday. Kathy, of Reinventing the Event Horizon, and her partner Sara are every bit as wonderful, talented and intelligent as you would imagine from reading Kathy’s posts. We had a delightful day talking, laughing, sharing stories, seeing their house which is full of fabulous finds from around the world, as well as spectacular designs and creations by Kathy herself. I even got to see her current work in process, that is going to be magnificent and look perfect in their lovely home. I met their dogs as well, and absolutely fell in love with Ralph.

Our meeting at Third Street Stuff. We are pointing at an important saying for both of us.

Live creatively or die.

Sarah and Kathy in front of fabulous gates painted by Kathy.

Sarah and Kathy inside Sara's lovely garden. That's Lizzy's face, too.

They took us on a tour of one of the horse tracks (Keeneland) and a drive out to Medway where we ate ice cream and I helped convince Kathy to sell some of her fabulous Christmas ornaments in a shop that sold beautiful art by local artists. (Sorry if I pressured you there Kathy–I’m good at marketing others, not myself.)

Sarah, Kathy and I have a horse race.

A fabulous couple!

Future jockey?

Everyone needed ice cream

There was an error, so Nathan got two. :)

During all these adventures, we drove around with our dogs, as we couldn’t leave them at the hotel. Kathy and Lizzy bonded beautifully. As our final stop of the day, before we left them to have dinner with old friends, they took us to a dog park and we let the dogs explore for a while.

Three happy friends.

All in all, a truly delightful day.

I have to admit, I was really nervous about meeting Kathy. I am shy and self-conscious, always worried that I am going to say or do something stupid. But I enjoyed every moment of our conversation and feel like I made some wonderful new friends. I hope they felt the same, and look forward to Kathy’s post about our adventures sometime this week.

Our day did not end with Kathy and Sara. We had dinner with another Lisa, a friend of Nathan’s since high school and a soul sister of mine since the day Nathan introduced us. Her daughter is only a couple of months older than Sarah, and they too were almost instantly like sisters when they first met last Christmas. So, Sarah ended up sleeping over (we couldn’t all stay with them this time because of busy schedules and roof issues), and Lisa convinced me that before we headed back onto the road I should treat myself to my first ever pedicure.

Three more happy friends.

Happy feet!

Words of Thanks, Thanks for the Words

Give thanks!

Image by kevindooley via Flickr

An old school friend has been starting each of his Facebook status updates with TDOT day# followed by something that makes him thankful. I missed what this meant and found that he is doing Thirty Days of  Thankfulness.

This strikes me as something truly wonderful, and something we don’t do enough.  The simple concept is related to the idea of daily affirmations, something I always intend to do, but never follow through.

So, today, I will write about thankfulness.  I will try, in one post, to write 30 things that I am thankful for. That really shouldn’t be too difficult, should it? It might be a little long-winded, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t get through them all. It is related to a post I wrote way back, “Things that Make me Lucky” and I know I can do it. So here goes:

1. As you can see by the title of this post, I am thankful that I have the words to be able to do this.

2. I am thankful for David, who decided to write TDOTs publicly on Facebook. I haven’t seen him in over 20 years, but I am impressed by the way he lives his life. From what I can tell, he embraces life with passion and joy, and I truly admire that.

3. I am thankful for the scale that just told me I gained weight. Crazy, huh? But now, I feel motivated. I feel like I can make the change I need to make now. If I hadn’t been inspired to step on the scale this morning, I would have continued to fool myself into believing that I’ve actually lost weight recently. (To my defense, my weight has shifted and my clothes are looser). So, after I finish writing this, or perhaps in the middle when the writing becomes more challenging, I am going to exercise and begin Day 1 of my new regime. So thanks again scale, I’ll do you proud.

4. I am thankful for my partner, Nathan. while life has not always been easy for us, he always does so much for me. I don’t know that I say thanks enough, but every day I am grateful for what he does. I only hope that I do enough in return.

5. I am thankful for my daughter, Sarah. Through her I have learned so much, both good and bad. When she faces every minute with a song, it reminds me of all the possibilities that were and could be. She is a wonderful person inside and out, and I am thankful she is part of my life.

6. I am thankful for Facebook. Yes, it can be a major time suck. Yes, it is dangerous in some ways. But, through Facebook I have reconnected with many wonderful people. Through Facebook, I have reevaluated my priorities. Through Facebook, I have discovered interesting ideas and new ways of expressing myself. I know the dangers of living too much in technology, but I think we also have to be thankful fo some of the good that it does.

7. I am thankful for my family. I’m not always close with them. Sometimes we drive each other crazy. Often we lose touch or avoid the conversations that are too difficult. But, at the same time, I realize I would not be who I am today without them. In the end, it is the support you get from people who love you that makes the world a better place.

8. I’m thankful for my dogs, Lizzy and Jasper. They are messy and annoying. They beg at the most inconvenient times. They bark, and fart, and all those wonderful things. BUT, they can look at you with love beyond any that you have felt. Love that has no requirements (except the occasional treat or pat). True. unconditional, love. How can you beat that?

9. I am thankful for those of you willing to read my words on a regular basis. It means so much to me.

10. I am thankful for friends, past, present, and future. I know that I haven’t found the place that I can call home, but I have been so blessed to have friends in my life that I call HOME. Thank you all.

11. I am thankful for chocolate. I may have to spend a little less time indulging (see my thanks to my scale), but I still am grateful for the joy you provide.

12. I am thankful for my teachers, formal and informal. I have been so lucky to have people in my life that guide me in so many ways. Those teachers are too numerous to count, but I hope that sending this thought out to the universe warms their day in a special way.

13. I am thankful for my body. Now that one surprises me, as I cannot stand looking in the mirror. My body has given me lots of trouble lately, too. But, I’m living, I’m breathing, and this body has taken me on adventures beyond compare. Maybe I need to treat it a little better, and respect it for the beauty it does carry. So thank you body. I promise, I’ll try harder.

14. I am thankful for books. In case you haven’t noticed, I live in the land of language. Without books, my life would be much emptier.

15. I am thankful for WordPress.  I needed this place to help me focus. I know that I have a long way to go to achieve my goals as a writer, but just knowing that occasionally someone reads what I have to say makes writing even more meaningful and joy-filled than ever.

Halfway there  . . .  time for a banana break.

16. I am thankful for bananas. Sweet, healthy goodness in its own wrapping.

17. I am thankful for music. I don’t know artists, I don’t know songs, but I do know when music can carry me away and heal me to my very core.

18. I am thankful to whoever gave me the tickets to see WICKED last week. It fulfilled me in so many different ways.

19. I am thankful for Japan. I miss Japan. The years I spent living there were some of the best, as well as the hardest, of my life. I grew there more than anywhere else. It is a beautiful, complicated country and I am so grateful for that experience.

20. I am thankful for my ability to learn languages. I know that I have forgotten a lot, but I love the power of words whether they are spoken in English, French, Japanese, Hebrew or any other language. Language makes life rich.

21. I am thankful for my past mistakes. They are, of course, too many to list here, but with each error I learn. I grow. And hopefully, I become a better person.

22. I am thankful for time. I know I complain a lot about my lack of job security and stuff, but truly I am thankful that I have the freedom to do different things. I have the time, when I don’t waste it, to write, to explore, to create, to dream. I don’t necessarily have the money to do everything I’d like, but I do have the time. I just need to learn how to use it better.

23. I am thankful for sleep. When I can get a good one, life is spectacular.

24. I am thankful for sunrises and sunsets. I struggle with where I live now, but I am so appreciative of the beauty of sunrise and sunset in the Kansas sky.

25. I am thankful for opportunities. I am my harshest critic, and am often down on myself for my perceived failures in becoming whatever obscure image I am supposed to have achieved by now. But, at the same time, I have had so many wonderful experiences and opportunities in my life, that it is astonishing. I am thankful for each one, as well as for the people who gave them to me.

26. I am thankful for candles. They are warm little spots of scent and color that make me feel at peace.

27. I am thankful for my education. I may not know what to do with it anymore, but it sure has taken me on an adventure into the unknown.

28. I am thankful for friends who have recently come back into my life. There is nothing like old friends to make you feel like you have a solid base in the world.

29. I am thankful for my students. So many of them have taught me more than I have taught them. So many of them have touched me in ways that they will never know. I only hope that I have left a mark with them as well.

30. Last but not least, I am thankful to have the opportunity to say thanks. Thank you, kind reader, for going on this little journey with me.

<3

Thank You for Being a Friend

 

Dew on a spider's web in the morning.

Image via Wikipedia

 

Thanks to my good friend Sue’s response to my post “I’d Like to Introduce . . . Myself” http://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/id-like-to-introduce-myself/ I have had an epiphany: I can be defined by the relationships I’ve made and the people I’ve had in my life.

When I look back on the number of incredible people I’ve met along my life’s journey, it gives me chills. I’m not in contact with them all. All of my relationships haven’t been perfect. Some people have hurt me along the way, and I’m sure I have hurt others. But still, the incredible journey of meeting and greeting, connecting and disconnecting, finding soul mates and losing loves, all make me who I am.

Some people have been in my life for years and will remain there forever. Some people have come and gone and come again. Some are merely wisps of memory, but memory is a powerful tool.

I thank each and every person who has ever touched my life and left, with their touch, a new depth of meaning and a new connection. I’ve explored this topic before, but today it has new meaning.

The previous incarnations are:

Dots, Lines and Connections

http://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/dots-lines-and-connections/

and Connections  http://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/connections/

I guess I have a common theme often. ;)

I am defined by the people who have become a part of my life. They don’t give me a definition, they become part of my definition. And, based on the incredible people who have welcomed me into their lives, my “definition” is rich.

Thank you all! <3

I’d Like to Introduce . . . Myself

“”This is Lisa Kramer, the wife of our new Technical Director.”

“This is Sarah’s Mom, Lisa”

“This is Lisa Kramer who has a Ph.D. in Youth Theatre.”

These are the ways I have been introduced lately, or some combination of them. Most often, and most disturbingly, is the introduction as “Nathan’s wife.” Not that I mind being Nathan’s wife, but around here it seems like I can only be identified in that way, and it bothers me. In parting the other day a guest theater artist actually said “So will I see you later Nathan and (pause) wife.”

His wife’s reaction to that was as disturbed as mine was. I love Nathan. I love my family. But I am the last person to see myself as a super successful wife or mother. I’m too selfish for that, and too desirous to be identified as someone or something else. How’s that for a blatant, ugly truth about myself?

Here is the thing about these introductions: THEY DO NOT EQUAL ME!!

For example, the most professional of these identifications pigeonholes me in a frustrating way. True, I have a Ph.D. in theatre for youth. But, in the eyes of many professional theater artists, Theatre for Young Audiences is the bastard stepchild of the theater world. I love it, and I love the power of arts and theater to change the world. I also, love doing theater with and for adults.  My first terminal degree is an MFA in directing. I worked as hard, in different ways, to achieve that degree. In many ways that is the more meaningful degree. (There is a long story behind that).

Also, despite those being my degrees, I have spent the past 5 years teaching research skills, writing, honors, and general education programs. Where does that fit into this definition or label of who I am professionally?

Whenever I ‘m asked to write a bio about myself, I struggle with what to put in and what to leave out. I find it impossible to define myself.

I remember going to a mini-high school reunion once (actually it was a retirement party for my high school drama teacher) and running into someone who I knew when he was a baby. I asked him what he did, and his response was “I’m a dad! I don’t like to define myself by my job.” He said that with a positive sense of identity. He was so proud of that particular role in his life. He had a good job, but chose to identify with his role as family man. I was impressed with that, because most men don’t do that. I don’t do that.

I wonder if my struggle with identifying myself as wife and mother is connected with my desire to see women as capable of anything in this world. Or is it simply my ego at work? Probably that.

I’d like to introduce myself, but I can’t because I cannot put myself into a simple definition.

So, for now, I am Lisa Kramer, a complex version of me.

Does that work?

*******

I’m adding this the next day, thanks to my friend Sue who pointed out that best thing that I can be is a friend. So . . .

Hello, I am Lisa. Good friend to wonderful people like my partner, Nathan, my daughter, Sarah, and all of the other people who make my life so rich, like Sue.

Dots, Lines, and Connections

 

Netti's "Connect The Dots"

Image by The Infatuated via Flickr

 

When I was younger (and even sometimes now during a boring meeting) I had one doodle that I would return to regularly. It always started with a few dots, anywhere from 3 to 5. Each of those dots then had to be connected with another by lines. Then I would begin to add new dots one at a time. Each new dot connected to the other dots by lines. Out of this grew an intricate web, sometimes looking almost three-dimensional. Sometimes I used different colors. It would grow bigger and bigger until I either ran off the page or was finished with whatever was going on. Sometimes I tried to do it on art paper, with color and variation . . . each dot sprouting lines of different color and thickness that link to all other dots on the page.

As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to find and connect the dots in my life. Each dot represents a person or an experience. My own dot is in there too, near the center, but there is no true center to this complex image.  Sometimes the lines don’t connect smoothly, and twist around to reach other dots. As this complex web grows, sometimes dots never meet, never link, never connect. It is impossible to connect everything to each other, everyone to each other. But I am fascinated by the intersections and the connections that bring people in and out of my world.

In the living version, lines stretch into the distant past and sometimes break. But sometimes they reconnect with stronger cords.  There is some old saying that says something about friends being there at the right time in your life. Perhaps that is true, but once someone has become a part of my life, I’ve connected the dots between myself and that person. The line may stretch and fade, but they never truly disappear.

Thank you to all the dots in my life. You’ve made my life a rich tapestry, and I hope that I have helped do the same for you.