Thursday, September 30, 2010

Like Magic...

"What we provide is an atmosphere... of orchestrated pulse which works on people in a subliminal way.  Under its influence I've seen shy debs and severe dowagers kick off their shoes and raise some wholesome hell." 
~Meyer Davis, about his orchestra

Dear Board Member,

Thanks again for asking me to join the board. I thought of something that I meant to share, but it completely slipped my mind. Too much time spent with absent minded professors I guess. It was initially an episode of Sesame Street that inspired me to play the violin. The letter of the day was "V" (for violin) and that was it. I absolutely had to play the violin. Once I had outgrown Sesame Street and had begun playing the violin in school, I discovered MVO. I became enthralled with their ability to turn boring notes on a page into beautiful music. It was like magic. Pure magic. And the members of MVO, or at that time MVCO, very quickly became my heroes. I wanted to be a magician, too.

I never in a million years would have guessed that I would have grown up to become an "MVO magician" nonetheless be asked to join the board. Assisting in the task of ensuring that others have the opportunity to be inspired like I was, and continue to be, are big shoes to fill. But it is the least I can do to give back. With that said, it means so much to be a part of this. More than you know. A little intimidating considering that some of the people on the board, and in the orchestra, are ones that I so highly regarded as magicians and heroes. I am still convinced I will be absolutely lost without Ed, the leader of the magicians. But I look forward to being a part of continuing his legacy long after he has retired.

PS. A letter of thanks will also be sent to Sesame Street as I'd imagine they'd be just as proud of my accomplishments.

Needless to say, one should not shy away from the use of magic to inspire others. Well, let's rephrase that. Do not shy away from the use of magic to inspire others as long as your magic trick doesn't involve the use of sharp knives, swords, and/or  large animals with big teeth. Remember, if the risk outweighs the benefit, find a different magic trick or select the right pep talk from your "pep talk" file. Everyone has a file on their computer labeled, "pep talks" right??

As a side note, it never occurred to me that my new role as Secretary on the board would require me to be serious. Something I haven't practiced in quite some time; nor do I really know anyone to look to for serious face advice. It seems that I work in the department of all things serious so maybe I just need to take a look around. There are probably some great looks to choose from.  Or, I could follow Pablo's example:

A girl in love with the letter V grows up to be a classical violinist turned magician and Poof! now is being nominated to serve on the board of directors? Now, THAT'S magic....



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Holy Sweatpants, Batman!

"You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, 'I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'"
~Jerry Seinfeld

Unless, my friends, those sweatpants were given to you by Jesus. The message you are sending to people then becomes, "I haven't given up. I can compete in normal society and I don't need fancy clothes to do so. Not only am I blessed by Jesus, but these giant sweatpants were also blessed... by Jesus.. and put on a rack.. just for me. I'm extremely happy, so I might as well be comfortable." 

Yes, I am the proud owner of a pair of sweatpants that Jesus Himself wants me to have. And it's all because I decided to brave a garage sale in the basement of a synagogue, and dared to accidentally bargain with a fellow worshipper of God; two things I very, very rarely do. But, this was a special occasion. If you are going to bargain at a garage sale, it might as well be with the good intention of loving thy neighbor, right? 

About a month ago, I decided to brave the biggest garage sale I've ever seen in search of a good deal. My friends and I spent hours searching through the sale for items of interest; a designer purse for $.50, something to store my garlic in, some scraps of fabric.. you know, the things you usually find at a garage sale. Before I knew it, my arms were overflowing with items, and I was about done. Then, I found the most glorious sweatpants hanging on a rack. Looking back on this, I could have sworn they were glowing. I picked them up and felt that, for the right price, I would take them. I proceeded to the cashier, placed my items on the table and said, "How much for the sweatpants?" 

We argued over pricing, I admitted that I really just didn't want or really need  the sweatpants; but if they were dirt cheap, I'd take 'em. This, my friends, is when I discovered that Jesus blesses sweatpants; or at least that's what one person thinks.  The volunteer assisting me at the check-out station assumed that I was poor and insisted on giving me the sweatpants. I tried to explain that wasn't the case, and the argument ended with, "We do not deprive people of the things they want and need at this garage sale. Jesus wants you to have these sweatpants." How do you argue with that?

So I left, with the sweatpants in hand, totally embarrassed by the whole transaction. They sat on the floor of my bedroom for quite some time that night; until the temptation to know what sweatpants blessed by Jesus looked like on, assuming they'd be a perfect fit. I put them on, and they were huge. Huge. Not only were they way too long, they were way too big. But, I wore them around the house, tripping everywhere I went because gosh darn it, Jesus wanted me to have them.

Granted, they are the most comfortable sweatpants I've ever been "blessed" with, I found myself completely trapped in bed the next morning. Literally could not get out of bed because the pant legs got caught in my sheets, and I couldn't get the pants off to untangle myself. Suppose my "Personal Safeness Tube" would have come in handy about then.....

I did eventually manage to get out of bed, take off the pants and throw them in the wash with hot water in an attempt to shrink them. They didn't shrink.

Needless to say, the lesson here is to be grateful for everything we are blessed with; even the things we haven't figured out what to do with quite yet.


Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Not Easy.. Being a Baker..

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Dear Julia Child,

I’m still trying to figure out exactly how this happened, so any thoughts are appreciated. While taking dinner out of the oven last night, my cell phone went on a ski trip down my shoulder, whizzed down the oven door, and landed right under the heating element at the bottom of the stove.  Oh wait, it gets better….

Then, I set a towel on fire trying to get the phone out, and burned my ear when trying to answer a call. Why on earth I put a flaming hot cell phone up to my hear, I’ll never know.

If it’s not too late, I think I should ask Santa for an Easy Bake Oven this year.  Although it really limits what I can bake, I’m pretty sure it is impossible to jam a cell phone past those tiny little doors. Might just be safer for everyone involved.  


Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Round of Applause....

Applause: The act of applauding; approbation and praise publicly expressed by clapping the hands, stamping or tapping with the feet, acclamation, huzzas, or other means; marked commendation.

Well, I did it again. Made a complete fool of myself in front of new student employees, and I don’t even know how many. This just about ranks up there with the time I left a self help book on my desk and people started to feel bad for me, when in reality, it was a required text for my grad school class.
Soooooo…. I play the violin in an orchestra, and I often listen to what we’re playing on YouTube throughout the day. Wouldn’t you know it, I just had to pick a YouTube video with an extended round of cheering, applause, AND a standing ovation at the end of it. So, when students stopped by, they got the impression that I listen to people cheering  for funsies. Awesome. 
This, my friends, is exactly why you do not listen to recordings of live performances on YouTube while at work.


Far Away from Where I Started

"Even though we 've changed and we're all finding our own place in this world, we all know that when the tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we'll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we're not all still friends."

Shortly after graduating from college, fate led me to my first "real" job in the corporate world. Each morning, I'd get up ready to fight the good fight, coffee in hand, no smile. I'd go off to make decisions about things that didn't really seem to matter, always questioning if this was really the best I could do. Two and a half years ago, I decided to leave the corporate world in search of an enriching organization that believed in people as much as I do. And as my luck would have it, I was led straight back to the very arches I walked out of 4 years ago as a proud graduate. I was back and on a mission to give everything to the community and people I had missed so much.

It didn't take long to realize the short term effects of trading the big city life for a small community. Before I knew it, nearly everyone in a small community knows you and deems you unforgettable.  This concept was, and still is, a little overwhelming. Especially considering that in my corporate life, management went out of their way to promote self sufficiency through a variety of resources. They even handed out kits to be used in case of an emergency. Yes, that's right. In case of a fire, terrorist attack, or other emergency, the new directive was to save yourself.. and no one else.

Needless to say,  it now seems silly that I stole the "Personal Safeness Tube" from my corporate desk just in case there was an emergency and someone forgot to rescue me. A "Personal Safeness Tube" includes a whistle, glow stick, face mask, a ketchup-like packet filled with water, "simple" directions for use and maybe a Band-Aid. I questioned the functionality of the "Personal Safeness Tube" while at my desk on the 13th floor of a skyscraper, and I have no idea what I was thinking in leaving it on my desk in my new job; my new life. Yet it still sits on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how blessed I am to be where I am today.

Then, the reality of departmental politics set in and I realized that maybe I really would have to use it to rescue myself. The funny thing is, I still have no idea how to save myself using only the contents of a "Personal Safeness Tube." Maybe I need to bring this question to my friends in housing. They're great problem solvers. Do incoming freshman get a "Personal Safeness Tube"?

The stories in this blog are true, but the names and some of the circumstances have been altered to protect the identities of those involved. I hope that in sharing some wisdom and a few laughs you'll be inspired to be the super hero you are when no one is looking.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

When No One is Looking

When I was a little girl, the neighborhood kids and I used to pretend we were super heroes. While all of the other children chose to be Batman and Robin, Superman, or Wonder Woman, I took a different approach. I insisted on being myself. Not only was I certain that I could change the world by simply being me, I was determined to prove that doing so did not require a cape, spandex, or super powers. It only required a plan, the appropriate tools, a little elbow grease, and a smile.
So, with that, I became “The Amazing Annie”; a super hero who helped the neighborhood stuffed animals work through difficult transitions in their lives.  Whether they learned to run the soup kitchen, fold blankets for the disaster relief shelter, or to read Where the Wild Things Are, the goal was to make each stuffed animal believe they were valued and had something unique to contribute.  I used to hug each stuffed animal and say, “Hi, my name is Annie. My mom thinks I’m amazing, and you can be amazing, too!” 
In my own little world, this mantra inspired them to become good leaders who made a difference in their communities. I eventually came to realize that stuffed animals didn’t really have feelings, and no one really wants to know that my mom thinks I’m amazing. But in looking back at what I was trying to do at the age of four; I think I was on to something.
This is the story of a former introvert who believed in fate and was severely disappointed in where it led her. What she didn't realize is fate ultimately had a final destination. She reached the end of the road, looked down and saw that there was no longer a path to follow. In order to move forward, she had two choices; Become someone she didn't really want to be, or stop believing in fate and start doing the things she does when no one is looking. Because the person who sang at the top of her lungs, told great stories, loved her life, all happened when no one was looking. She wanted to write her own story. One that didn't have a final destination.

Any good story has to have direction, right? This one really only has 3 ground rules.

1. Become the person you've always wanted to be. The world can always use more super heros.
2. Love yourself, your life, and all the people in it with everything you've got. Take the risk that you might lose it all. You may be wrong more times than you are right, but the few times you are right will prove to be more powerful than all the times you failed.
3. While staying true to your beliefs, seek wisdom and knowledge from a variety of sources. Why have 8 crayons when you could have 120?
Needless to say, choosing the 120 crayon option is not for those who insist on wearing a cape and spandex; nor is it the best option for the indecisive. However, those who are brave enough to withstand it encounter their fair share of characters and find wisdom in the strangest of places. This blog is for everyone who seeks to be inspired to write their own story. It's not easy, no matter what path you choose. But there isn't anything that says you can't have fun along the way. I challenge you to ask yourself what you would do if no one was watching. It serves as a good place to start and makes for some fantastic stories.

My name is Annie, and it doesn't matter who thinks I am amazing. All that matters is that you can be amazing, too.

Happy Reading,