Monday, September 14, 2009

You may say I'm a dreamer

...but I'm not the only one ...

Wow. It's been a looooooong time since I've written here. When asked why I've been away so long, my response has invariably been something along the lines of, "Oh, I just haven't been feeling creative lately." I've been thinking about that though, and realize it's not entirely accurate.

The truth is that I'm constantly engaged in some aspect of the creative process in my head. I'm forever mulling over ideas, putting together words and images and colors, forming expressions of my own personal art. In my mind.

I think I'm the type of person who often prefers the actual idea of something over the execution of the idea. Thinking and dreaming and planning and scheming often hold more of a thrill for me than doing, as reality sometimes doesn't quite stand up to my imagination. I guess I've known this about myself for quite some time, but have felt it somehow to be a shortcoming. After all, aren't we taught that success results from achievement? And how can one possibly achieve without doing?

So I'm back. At least for now. Let's see if I can keep the momentum moving in a forward direction this time around.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vintage Me!

It's no secret that I am a woman with a past ...

Over the past couple of years I've reestablished contact with my first husband, the boy I met and dated the latter part of my high school years. We married in September of 1981, which seems like several lifetimes ago. (Well, I guess that's because it truly was!) We divorced about five years after we wed. After years of no communcation whatsoever between us, we now email occasionally -- just a friendly "keeping in touch" between those for whom so much time has passed that it is possible to view one another simply as old friends. This morning, I received an email from him, with the note, "Look what my daughter found!" -- and this little beauty attached.

Yes, folks - you are looking at Vintage Jen! This photo is probably circa 1979, which would have made me 17 years of age. A mere child, really -- albeit one sporting the ubiquitous Farrah Fawcett, Aqua-Netted-to-the-hilt hairdo in which I felt so very glamorous and adult.

I am certain that at some point, I would have looked at this photo and flinched at its datedness. But now it only makes me smile.

Yes, vintage me -- the young woman I once was. So uncertain of myself in so many ways, yet eager to reach and learn and grow. I've reached the place in life where I enjoy looking back and remembering who and what I once was. The hairstyle may be giggle-inducing, but overall, it is sweet to reminisce.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Adobe & Lace

I love the juxtaposition of old adobe walls with delicate lace at the windows. The warm clay radiates solidity, both contrasting with and complementing the filmy, ethereal beauty of the lace. Earthiness and refinement -- incongruent, yet equally worked by human hands.

The tranquil domestic depiction above is at Acoma, one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the United States. It was built atop a 367-foot sandstone mesa in New Mexico, and is often referred to by a name which needs no explanation -- "Sky City." Walking along the dusty streets of this pueblo, where many live without electricity or running water, it is indeed curious and touching to glance up from one's grimy boots and spy the graceful drape of gossamer lace at the rough-hewn windows. It speaks clearly of one's need to create loveliness in even the most seemingly desolate of places. I remember the "lace at Sky City" well, and in some ways, consider it a metaphoric reminder to be always seeking to impart sweetness to the mundane.


Adobe and lace ... Yin and yang ... Rough and soft ... Common and exquisite ...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Well. Wasn't THAT Creepy!

Yesterday evening I set about my usual routine of working out on the elliptical trainer, which always entails taking remote control in hand and surfing channels until I find something mildly interesting (or even remotely distracting) to watch for the next 50 minutes. I had missed the first ten minutes or so, but soon became engrossed in "Felicia's Journey", a film that I initially thought was going to be upbeat and heartwarming. The story begins with the introduction of the primary characters -- a young, Irish girl (innocent, save for the fact that she is newly and unexpectedly pregnant) and a middle-aged man who appears to be obsessed with gourmet cooking, music, and antiques. The verdant imagery of the Irish and English countrysides, meshed with lovely, vintage cottage interiors, drew me right in. And of course, by the time I was too hooked to look away, the story got weird. Really weird.

From an online review:

Felicia's Journey, based on William Trevor's psychologically shivery novel of the same name, pokes into the auteur's favorite pits of sexual darkness, spiritual hunger, and human disconnectedness in the story of an exceptionally naive Irish girl (Elaine Cassidy) who leaves her insular home and makes her way to the English Midlands to search for the man she thinks she loves.

Clueless on the grimy streets and, it turns out, pregnant, she crosses fatefully into the insular world of Mr. Hilditch (Bob Hoskins, channeling something of the sheet music salesman he so famously played two decades ago in TV's "Pennies From Heaven"), a tidy catering manager with an insidiously warped interest in "rescuing" the young woman.

I was no longer mesmerized by the pretty scenes, but now riveted by the bizarre story (featuring grainy, flashback film footage of murdered prostitutes), and I could not tear myself away from the screen. The film wasn't at all gory or sensationalized (there was actually no onscreen violence at all), but psychologically thrilling, which is always more unsettling than the all-too-easy depiction of blood and guts. Well, to tell the truth, I don't do gore very well either, but mentally and emotionally disturbing stories almost always prove to be a mistake for me. Especially right before bedtime. I guess it goes without saying that I'm exhausted today, thanks to the nightmares that haunted my sleep.

The film carried its viewer from sweet scenery much like this:


Don't be fooled by the cocoa and cookies! He's coming to KILL you ...


Will you escape???
(I wanted to reach through the screen and somehow drag that hapless girl to safety, before it was too late!)

I guess you'll just have to see it for yourself. And remind me to stick to comedies ... especially after dark!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Am One HOT Chick ...

Literally. At the ripe old age of "almost 47", I'm suddenly right in the thick of perimenopausal hell, and let me tell you, I am not at all happy to be here. Strange things are now occurring within my body, rendering me not only a physical wreck, but impacting my mental and emotional states in a most negative manner as well.

I realize I'm venturing into the realm of "Entirely Too Much Information", but I don't care (she said with a surly snarl) -- this is most certainly a matter that affects (afflicts?) the vast majority of women, and I think we need to be able to freely discuss. And vent (lest we kill).

I began menstruating when I was 12, and my periods have arrived like clockwork for more than 30 years. Only recently have they become wildly unpredictable (as have my moods), and it's not much fun playing guessing games ... Will TODAY be the day she finally bleeds? Step right up, folks - place your bets ... Cramps are manifest; there's the telltale zit ... Odds are good, folks -- odds are good ...

The mood swings are outstandingly horrid, and make me nostalgic for the merely bitchy days of PMS. One minute I'm on top of the world, feeling magnanimous towards even the most unloveable. Wait about nine minutes, though, and I morph into unspeakable evil: I could likely eat babies for breakfast. I completely understand the mindset of the oft-stereotyped homicidal, middle-aged woman. I've had thoughts, people ... thoughts that I wouldn't even want to share here, for fear of implicating myself should you ever, say, hear on the news that a group of tourists was met with a hit-and-run fate while innocently navigating a city crosswalk.

Poor Rocky finds himself on the receiving end of my inexplicable anger all too often, I'm afraid. His benign query, "What are we going to do this weekend?" is met with a dagger-like darting of my eyes in his direction and a venom-laced response: "I don't know, alright?!?" How can he stand me? I can't even stand me.

The hot flashes are hellacious, and seem particularly brutal when they arrive in the middle of the night, waking me up with torturous regularity to engage in the "covers on! -- covers off!!! -- covers on!" dance that only serves to exacerbate my problems by adding sleep deprivation to the inventory. I'm almost always late to work in the mornings, since I have to take breaks to go and sit beneath a fan, while the sweat (and freshly-applied makeup) drips from my body as I try to go about my daily routine. Even now, as I sit and type this tirade, I feel my skin prickle and the heat begin to quickly crawl its way up from within my core, perspiration beading on my forehead.

They say that misery loves company, but it really doesn't help much, the knowledge that I'm not alone in this. Nor does it make me feel better to remind myself that "this too shall pass", as I fear it's here to stay for the unforeseeable future. I've now reached the inevitable point of having to make some decisions regarding my health and how I'll proceed from here on out. I'll admit it seems odd to be at this point in my life ... it seems like only yesterday I was first learning to use those feminine products, and now I seldom have the need for them (but they must always be close at hand, just in case.)

And so, at the ripe old age of "almost 47", I'm hot. Just not entirely in the way that I'd choose ... if only I could.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More (Techni)Color in the Cottage

Turquoise is ...
The deep hue beneath the shimmer of the sea
The cool, marbled stones in my Navajo necklace
The steaming pool among Yellowstone's crusted earth
His eyes when the sunlight hits them just so
The piercing brilliance in the stained glass window …
My most favorite color of all

This will be something of a "drive-by" post, as time is very limited at the moment ... I was off work yesterday and completely out of commission since Sunday, as I seem to have succumbed to the flu-like bug that's been making the rounds. Now I'm back at work and desperately trying to catch up, but I still wanted to share the recent transformation of our little old dining room. I'd been thinking of taking the room from the deep, avocado hues of Laura Ashley's Olive #6 to a turquoise shade, ever since our trip to Puerto Vallarta last summer, when we stayed in a condo with that most gorgeous of colors on its bedroom walls. A couple of weekends ago, I took the plunge on a whim, and the dining room is now a brilliant Benjamin Moore shade called Venezuelan Sea. I love it.

Dining room before -- not bad, just a bit drab:

And after ...

I really like the way the turquoise plays off the La Fonda Ortiz Gold in the living room ...

For more turquoise inspiration, be sure to check out the beautiful blog, "House of Turquoise" -

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weighty Issues

Oh, the follies of youth: A time when so many of us think that aging and its inherent physical afflictions will never touch us -- or, if we do acknowledge its eventuality, we manage to fool ourselves into thinking that getting older is something that happens a long way down the line.

Well, let me tell you something. It happens practically overnight.

In my younger years, I was one of those who could pretty much eat and drink whatever she liked and still maintain a very svelte figure. Exercise? During the 80s when Jane Fonda-style aerobics were in vogue, I gave that a go a few times, but it was more about wearing those adorable leg warmers, shimmery Lycra leotards and headbands (ha!) than about actually sweating (God forbid!).

Reaching back even further into my childhood, I suppose I was a normal, active kid. I was always riding a bicycle or dribbling a basketball or running around the neighborhood with the other naughty kids on my block. I was never much for participating in team sports, although I did briefly play on a girls' softball team. I stood in the outfield and prayed without ceasing for the person at bat to hit that ball anywhere but towards me. I didn't like playing the game, but I desperately wanted to fit in with the other girls on the field. I was also one of those kids who brought notes from home, as an avoidance technique when the P.E. teacher had us running laps around the backstops during recess. Yeah, you remember the type -- "But I can't run! My asthma is acting up again!"

Fast forward to my 30s (well, that didn't take long! I told you -- it sneaks up and bites you right in the big ol' butt), when I found myself weighing much more than I ever thought I would. Years of engaging in junk food orgies really takes its toll. As a New Year resolution, I joined a gym and began walking, both on the treadmill and outdoors. Combined with a restricted and highly regimented diet, I quickly began to lose weight and was thrilled at the way I felt so very in control of my body. I began walking in 5K events, and one morning when I showed up to participate in our annual Cowtown 10K, I arrived at the starting line late. Instead of entering with the group of walkers where I belonged, I inadvertently fell into line among a group of hardcore Marines who were running the route, and in order to avoid being completely trampled to death, I ran too. Amazingly, I loved how it felt to run, and thus began a lengthy love affair with the sport of running that endured until my knees finally called it quits. During this time, I also took up hiking, and my strong legs took me to some spectacularly beautiful, remote locations, as Dad and I made numerous father/daughter treks to the backcountry regions of the southwest.

Somewhere along the way, I met Rocky, who was a personal trainer at the time of our meeting. Under his tutelage, I went from being a skinny, stringy runner to a muscled and sculpted athlete (at least as much of an athlete as I've ever been), and I reveled in having a taut, toned, able body.

What is it they say about how falling in love makes people happy ... and fat? Folks, it really happens! Rocky and I both grew lazy and hedonistic when it came to food and drink, and the pounds quickly crept back up. And up. And up.

While I didn't quite hit my highest weight, I came very close, and after my gallbladder surgery last year, I decided that enough was enough. This weight simply had to come off, and most importantly, I had to keep it off. That is still my goal, and my daily focus is to eat nutritious foods (I am predominantly vegan, although I must confess that cheese is my bitch; or maybe I'm actually cheese's bitch ... at any rate, I'm still hooked) and exercise as many days during the week as I possibly can. Within the past year, I've dropped around 25 pounds, and while I am happy to have achieved that success, I'd still really like to shed about 10 more. And the last 5 or 10 can be so stubborn!

So ... I write these words to remind myself of where I've been in my relationship to diet and exercise, and how I have been able to reach my goals when I set them concretely and pursued them diligently. I'll endeavor to keep up these healthy habits that I've once again revisited, and maintain a vision of my body in peak performance as a reminder of what I want to achieve. I'll also try my level-headed best not to judge myself too harshly. I'll be 47 years old this year, and will never look exactly as I did in my 30s. While that's sometimes a rather bitter pill to swallow, I'm going to try my damnedest to make peace with that fact.

I'm just going to be the best me that I can be now. And that's a worthy goal. Right?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Viva Mexico!

Well, as many of you know, we spent two weeks in Cabo San Lucas last month. We were slightly ambivalent about making the trip after the market collapse did a number on our finances, but I’m so very glad we boarded that tin tube and went. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that traveling is a most worthy endeavor, and planning a trip creates an exciting focus when the drudgery of the daily routine threatens to drag us down. For that reason, I want us to "keep on trippin'" for as long and as often as we possibly can. It really matters in our lives.

*Los Cabos (translated, "The Capes") are the twin towns at the Baja peninsula's southernmost tip. Cabo San Lucas holds court on the Western cape and San José del Cabo rounds out the Eastern cape. Connected only by the Tourist Corridor, 21 miles of coastline studded with golf courses, luxury resorts, dramatic beaches, and master-planned communities, the two capes could not be more different.

Cabo San Lucas, also known as Land's End, is the rowdy younger sister who shoots cheap tequila while dancing on the table chanting, "what happens in Cabo stays in Cabo."

The other side of San Lucas is a bling-flashing second cousin who frequents swanky clubs, ends the night in his oceanfront Jacuzzi, and cruises the coast in his luxury yacht.

Somewhere in between are the fun-loving aunts and uncles who've come to fish for marlin and/or for a peep at Sammy Hagar.

On the other hand, San José del Cabo, on the eastern side of Baja's tip, is a decidedly more "Mexican" experience. Colorful 18th-century homes-turned-artisan shops, vibrant flowering trees, world-class waves, and exquisite restaurants draw well-tanned surf gypsies; jolly snowbirds in search of sun and margaritas, celebrities and executives looking for respite from the rat race, and couples and families who wake up early to enjoy a full day of outdoor fun. The tree-lined streets of the downtown area are particularly enchanting, and the melodies of Ranchera or Banda music float from century-old homes still inhabited after generations.

*Info from Frommer's

It's so very divine to sink my toes into the sand, gaze out at the sea, and feel the gentle caress of the ocean breeze. Kahil Gibran wrote, "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the wind longs to play with your hair." Admittedly, I'm not a surfer or a swimmer, but I consider it such a privilege to just be in the presence of the sea, and I feel drawn back again and again to the Pacific side of Mexico, to bask in the sun and be simultaneously lulled and energized by the surf.

Not only does the beauty of Mexico inspire me, but her people are among the warmest and most welcoming I've ever met. While many Mexicans live with very little in the way of material goods, by and large they possess a gracious nature and exude friendliness and a genuine openness which is evident upon the many smiling faces that look our way. Smiles, smiles ... always -- smiles abound.

Almost as soon as we touched down back home in Fort Worth, we began planning our next Mexican get-away. We'll travel to Puerto Vallarta in August for my birthday, as we did last year. Already I'm counting down the days, filled with a childlike excitement and anticipation of adventures to come.