Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Have We Learned Nothing Since the Fall of Saigon 40 years Ago April 30, 1975?

Nation building! That is a concept that the Americans have been categorically inept at executing throughout its history. But the most blatant example of failure is that of Vietnam. The Americans were not invited into the dispute between the north and south. The USA inserted itself into the dispute based upon the ideological view that it was necessary to stop the spread of Communism. The government failed to engage in discussions with Ho Chi Minh, who was a French communist rather than a Bolshevik. The Americans disregarded the abject failure of the French at Dien Bien Phu. No lessons were learned.

I grew up during the Vietnam conflict. During my childhood I watched the reporters on the evening news recount daily the number of body bags, the tunnel rats at Cu Chi, the Tet Offensive, the bombings of Hanoi, the prisoners tortured at the Hanoi Hilton, the misguided decisions of General Westmoreland, the MIA’s, the KIA’s, the escalation, the horror of My Lai. As a child I knew we were wrong to be there. There was no clear mission.

In 1992 I visited Vietnam. I went to the former American Embassy, which was converted into the Museum of American War Crimes. I talked with local people who were still living in a 1960’s economy. I met Madame Dai, a former member of the South Vietnamese legislature who was sent to a reeducation camp.

Yes, there was tragedy occurring in Vietnam. There were citizens of South Vietnam that did not want to be assimilated into the North Vietnamese Communist government. But who were we, a Western society, to inflict our views of the world on another country? We had no right!

The hubris of our leaders stupefies me. We have no right or even moral obligation to interfere in the sovereignty of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Somalia, or any other independent nation. It is a travesty that the government of the USA has sent our soldiers, sailors and fliers to fight and die on the soil or the airspace of countries that are not partners by treaty.

As a child I lay in bed at night and contemplated fleeing to Canada should the war not be over at the time I came of age and should the draft apply to women. Should any ten year old in a country not protecting its own boarders have to think about such things? I think not.

Apparently we’ve learned nothing from history so we are no doubt to repeat the mistakes of the past Hopefully, none of my loved ones will be caught in the vortex of misguided government decision making.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Noticing My Asymmetrical Ears!

As I was stopped at a red light in traffic on my journey to yoga this evening, I noticed for the first time in 55 years that my ears are not symmetrical. I’ve known for decades that one eye opens wider than the other and that my nose tilts a bit to the right – which is handy since my husband’s nose tilts slightly to the left – it is a perfect fit.

But I found it curious that my ears are not shaped the same. I’m not sure why I expected them to be symmetrical. I’d just assumed they were. And I found myself surprised that I’ve never noticed before today, in the car, at 5:15pm, on my way to yoga.

My hair has always been rather sassily short, exposing my ears to an easily viewed reflection in the mirror. My lobes have been pierced since I was 12 or 13; so I’ve been adorning my ears with earrings on a daily basis for what seems like forever. I’ve worn headbands and hats. I’ve primped, applied make-up, inspected for rosacea and zits, plucked errant hairs from my chin, and inserted contact lenses in my eyes for 30 years yet never noticed the difference in the shape of my ears until today.

And I did not notice because of a visual cue. No, I felt the difference. For some reason while stopped at that red light I looked in the rear view mirror, noticed I’d forgotten my earring, reached to my ear and felt the uneven cartilage of my right ear that has an odd bump in the inner curved part near the top. When I reached up to check my left ear I noticed it was smooth. Why had I never notice before?

This is not an earth-shattering discovery. However, I was reminded how I’ve not always lived my life mindfully aware of my body, my personal space, and my surroundings.  Ultimately, I found I felt comfort in the asymmetry. It is these little differences that make us each uniquely special. I’ve learned to embrace who I am and celebrate what makes me extraordinary. My ears just contribute a bit to that difference.

What about you makes you uniquely special?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Making Healthy Choices –~A New Yoga Direction

One of the benefits of aging is reaching a point in life when one becomes completely comfortable making healthy changes, even when it tests loyalty to a long time friend or associate.

For the past 10 years I’ve been a member of a local yoga studio that served me well for about 7 years.  However, the studio has grown in a different direction than I have grown. That is okay. For a long time our community had no other options. So I tried to fit my square peg into the hole that existed despite my frustration and discomfort. I just felt out of sorts.

But in the last few weeks I’ve discovered an opportunity for yoga practice that fits my needs, which includes classes that are accessible, available at the right time for me  (which is 5:30pm) and which help me find inner peace. It just feels right.

For sometime now I’ve felt I’d lost my ability to delve deep within myself and connect with the spirituality I used to find in my practice. But I’ve rediscovered that inner peace with Jala, a relatively new studio in Winchester, Virginia. I’ve found myself lost in the moving meditation and focus on my breath with my mind completely at rest.  Every class I’ve attended has felt right for me.

Perhaps it is the bloom of spring when everything seems possible. The changing of seasons fills the air. And I’ve learned over the years that change is positive. It is a catalyst for growth and new beginnings.

Part of me feels regret that I must move on. But another facet of my being feels invigorated, infused with the spirit of joy, healing, peace and serenity. And that is the path I have chosen to travel – to peace and serenity. So I know my decision is the right one for me.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Jumping on the DIY Bandwagon~

Casa Harrington in Spring

My husband and I have now lived in our house for 9 ½ years and we are feeling the overwhelming desire to update our bathrooms, kitchen, deck, laundry room and basement.  Furthermore, the entire interior needs to be painted.

The Old Wing Chair When it was New......1991

We have champagne taste and don’t want to compromise. After watching numerous home renovation shows on DIY and HGTV in addition to the “how to” tutorials on YouTube, we feel confident that we can achieve the updates that we desire with a lot of sweat equity and assistance from select professionals.

I have the OCD to ensure we follow through with our projects. Todd had the similar determination to make sure whatever we do is done correctly. He is a perfectionist. I have the drive to crack the whip to make sure we move the job along. This will either be the perfect collaboration or the perfect storm. I prefer to think towards the positive that this will be a joint effort that delivers what we want most economically. After all, we do not want to sacrifice fine wine and exquisite food to complete these renovations.

My First Recovering Project - Love the Seat Cushions!

Where to start is the big question. We’ve decided that if we are going to perform a great deal of the work ourselves, we will have to begin with smaller projects that will not impact our major living spaces such as a guest bathroom and laundry room. I’m also testing my resolve and focus by beginning my journey with an upholstery project. This evening I’ve begun to dismantle a custom fabricated wingchair. I will take photographs of every step, label each piece of fabric, use the pieces as pattern pieces for the new fabric, follow the instructions of those who have journeyed this way before, and re-assemble in reverse order.

And, if this endeavor is as successful as I envision, the rest of the soft furnishings are fair game.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Embracing the Rebirth of Spring~

After a long harsh winter the portents of spring fill me with hope, awe, joy, and optimism. It is a time for rebirth, embracing something new, or celebrating change. The blooming daffodils and grape hyacinth signify the arrival of spring and renewal. Today I embraced warmth and humidity and the optimism that summer is just around the corner.

So today, the first Friday of April, I enjoyed a day away from work, started the day with my wellness check (although fasting blood work is agony when coffee is delayed), followed by a meeting at the bank, a shopping expedition at Talbots, a yoga practice at a new studio, lunch with girlfriends at a new concept restaurant in town, a meeting about launching the new website for our photography business, and renewing our Costco membership.

We are planning to renovate our master bathroom, paint our bedroom in a soothing color that feels spa like, re-organize the shed and garage, expand our deck, eliminate clutter, and focus on living an abundant life.

While it took me decades to appreciate the positive impact of change, I’ve learned to embrace it. Change is good. It represents growth.  Even when changing is challenging, it is a fact of life that we cannot evade. So, it is necessary to accept it, embrace it or roll with it. Fighting change is rarely successful.  So, I try to embrace it and celebrate the opportunities it brings.

And it will bring me a dynamic new bathroom so I can star in my personal “Calgon, take me away” commercial. Calgon, not….one of those couples in separate bathtubs in the woods commercials. Really, what’s with that?