Amor de mi Alma

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“My soul has formed you to its measure / I want you as a garment for my soul” – Garcilaso de la Vega, Sonata V

Tonight I sang this beautiful choir piece in Spanish and ruminated on the words.  At first I laughed at the dramatic tone of this romantic statement — this concept that one soul could form to clothe another.  At surface value, it’s the kind of melodramatic drivel that we love as teenagers, and that inspire shows like Twilight and Princess Bride.

When you take away our learned and hardened cynicism, it’s a beautiful statement.  The concept that another’s soul could warm and sustain your inner being, similar to a garment.  The lovely idea that two beings could be so close that they could be formed to exactly the same measure.

I’m not completely sold that there’s one garment for my soul, nor do I expect someone else’s soul to be formed to my measure.  However, I think we can all perform this function – at least momentarily – for others.  Those times when you support those you love with a warm word or kind gesture, lean in for the deserved hug, bring a meal when one is hungry, provide laughter when one is down, inspire confidence for one feeling timid.

We each have the power to be a garment for another’s soul, to shield them from the vagaries of the world and the coldness of the universe.

Yes, some days I do want you as a garment for my soul.  Give me a moment and I will return the blessing.

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Being Human Doing

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I’m swept up by the act of transitioning jobs, training for AIDS LifeCycle, performing in my first choir, and juggling personal items like a house refinance and my grandfather’s 90th birthday party.  Every task has become another chore – something to be measured in hours – or preferably minutes – until I can get onto the next thing.  Every roadblock is an annoyance, every new commitment is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

I have gone into “Human Doing” mode, and have forgotten my patience, my humanity, and my serenity.  Sitting in a space of “Human Being” has been almost impossible as I feel my blood pressure rising and the list of my commitments growing longer.

Today I took a breath and slowed down a bit, although the vacation day that I intended to take didn’t ultimately happen.  Today I had a few brilliant moments of being without that feel of panic that comes from too much doing.

With those brilliant moments came insight.  In order to succeed at the new job, at training for ALC, and in life I need to sink into being.  I must learn from the moments and focus on the present, not on what is coming.

I must take this moment of clarity and re-balance my Doing and Being.

Off Kilter

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Today is my dad’s birthday, and quite possibly the anniversary of his death. Don’t worry, I’m not going to write anything maudlin — after 26 years of mourning his passing I am over most of the truly tempestuous bits of grief. I like this picture of my mom and dad – they look young and happy and full of hope. It’s also one of the few shots I’ve seen where I can map my physical features to both my mom and my dad, and see the strong genetic connection.

I recently went to visit my cousin and family in my dad’s hometown, and even got to spend a few moments in the house he lived in when I was a child. It was sad and also a little creepy, being surrounded by all those childhood memories from 30 years ago. The place itself seemed smaller than I remember it, but then again I bet most places seem pretty big when you’re five.

I wonder sometimes if my father would seem smaller too, if he were alive today and I could meet him as an adult. As a child, he seemed larger than life — with his silly puns and his almost manic mood swings and his desperate need for love. I loved the idea of him, even if it was sometimes hard to love the man himself. He was – nearly impossible but true – both the best possible and worst possible father a girl could have.

He taught me by example some important qualities in life – to be responsible, predictable, value your health, save your money. I learned these lessons not by what he did, but what he didn’t do. There were many things about my father that formed the central cautionary tale of my life. My watchwords for success were fundamentally different because of the lessons I learned from him when I was very young.

The positive gifts he gave were just as fundamental. He taught me to dream, and he taught me how to see the world from an off-kilter perspective. He was the master of flipping arguments on their heads, of advocating for the underdog, for looking at an issue sideways rather than dead on. He was artistic and eloquent and passionate, and I hope I take those qualities from him.

He’s been a central theme of my life, even in his absence. His presence looms large, even though I suspect his physical presence might not be so large if he were actually living today. It’s the open questions, and the inability to put them to rest, that make me sad today.

Happy birthday, Dad. May you rest in peace…and even though our relationship is complicated, I hope you know you’re loved.

Intended Use

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It’s been a week of transitions.  I spent the past several days living out of a suitcase – first New York, then Ohio, then LA.  It was wonderful to come home, sleep in my own bed, get back to my old routines.  I learned again how much of a creature of habit I am, and how much my body gets thrown off by lack of regular rhythms and patterns.  So, now I’m back to Pilates, clean(er) eating, and regular sleeping.  It feels fantastic.

I’m also transitioning roles from a global account executive – running the Apple relationship for my company – to a team manager role.  I have a team of people working for me again…it’s been six years since I had more than a dotted line reporting relationship to manage.  It’s nice, I admit…and not because it’s a power trip or a promotion or any of the usual junk.

It’s nice because I think coaching and developing people might just be my intended use in life.  I love seeing someone’s eyes light up when they learn something new, accomplish something undreamt, or realize a new aspiration.  My life satisfaction has increased so much during the past few weeks, just getting started in my new role and working with my team.

It’s nice….getting back to my intended use…in all aspects of life.

22 Floors

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I grew up wearing frumpy floral clothing in fabrics made of rayon and polyester.  As I transitioned into adulthood, I discovered cotton and wool separates and solid colors and I vowed I’d never go back to florals or patterns.  However, my styling senses haven’t changed much in 20 years — I wear comfortable, roomy, classic, and practical clothes.

I spent my week in New York, surrounded by my new team of brassy and stylish sales people.  They shun baggy and classic fashion, and find it perfectly acceptable to wear bowler hats and leopard print dresses to meetings.  Four inch heels are de rigueur and I constantly imagine that they look down on my classic midwestern values…let alone my slouchy Californian sensibilities.

I went shopping last night after work, trying to gain some insights into New Yorker fashion.  I found a Macy’s with 22 floors of fashion – touted as the largest department store in the world.  Within this stunning monument to retail, I found a myriad of florals and patterns, feathers and bowler hats, fashion and farce.  It was simply overwhelming.

I contemplated a business suit that featured a pink linen jacket, white starched shirt, and pink feathered skirt.  I imagined myself becoming a New Yorker and flouncing proudly into a meeting wearing this fashion concoction…and knew that I could never channel the sheer bravado that it would take to walk into a room wearing such garb.

I am humbled by New York…its fashion, its blustery people and even more blustery weather.  I have yet to decipher either the fashion or the people, but I look forward to my ongoing adventures.