Deep Thoughts by Lisa Kramer

No, my deep thoughts will be nothing like Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy. There’s an entire website dedicated to his deep (dark, disturbing, and sometimes downright hilarious) thoughts which originated on Saturday Night Live.

Do you remember those?

No, my deep thoughts are the thoughts of a brain that has been working overtime during the past week, but can’t seem to work its way out of the mire of thinking.

To put it simply, I think too much. I cannot move forward into some other kinds of writing or into planning if I can’t empty my brain off all the thoughts competing for attention. If I had a pensieve like Dumbledore in Harry Potter I would be pulling strand out of strand of thoughts out of my head just to give my mind a rest. But I don’t have one, so I must resort to a more mundane way of doing things (or is that a more muggley way of doing things?). I don’t have a magic wand . . . I just have the magic of words.

I want to use that magic except that I’m afraid, because the truth is that some of my thoughts could piss people off. Does that mean I shouldn’t write them? Or is it finally time to get all of this off my chest?

What exactly am I afraid of?

I guess my fear is not being liked. I still struggle with  wanting to belong somewhere, and here on the blog I’ve found a group of friends even if they are only virtual ones. I’m also aware that anyone who has dreams of writing and selling a book, needs to build a fan base. But what if my deep thoughts are too radical? Too opinionated? Or simply too difficult  to follow?

Yup, my thoughts are that deep.

Then I look at one of my writing idols, Andra Watkins aka The Accidental Cootchie Mama, who does not run away from the dark words and thoughts that sometimes haunt her. She lets her characters have a voice through her words, even when those characters and thoughts come from a scary place. Her fiction never fails to chill, thrill, and make you think a little about the meaning of  life. Perhaps I need to allow my deep thoughts to come  out  in the form of fiction, or at least I need to give voice to them somehow.

Even if they make me afraid.

Does anyone want to hear the deep thoughts of Lisa Kramer or should my voice remain silent?

Sometimes deep thoughts come while sitting on a swing and staring at the sky.

Sometimes deep thoughts come while sitting on a swing and staring at the sky.

 

Wishing for Equality

Today I choose to use Birthday Wish power on the big issue of the day:

Marriage Equality!!!

I choose to write about this today because today is the birthday of another wonderful woman/blogger/friend, Kathy from Reinventing the Event Horizon. She is also one of the few bloggers whom I have met live and in person.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy's post about the experience. Click on the image to read that post.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy’s post about the experience.

Kathy and her partner Sara are two  of the most amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women I’ve ever met, and I have met a lot of amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women.

They are also one of the most loving and supportive couples I’ve ever known.

Kathy and Sara

They, and so many like them, deserve to marry if they wish.

So today I choose to use the power of birthday wishes, tapping into the power of Kathy’s birthday, to wish that the Supreme Court recognizes that equality for all doesn’t mean equality for only the people who look/think/act/love and behave like one group who wants to define and control everyone else.

Equality for all looks like equality, plain and simple.

Celebrating Friendship

Today I celebrate #31 on my list of 45 things to celebrate about my life, by looking at the people in my life.

If the people you choose to spend time with–the friends you make along the way–reflect who you are as a person, then I can’t be too horrible. I’ve been honored to become friends with some truly amazing people throughout my lifetime, despite the protective wall I’ve put around myself because of poor friendship choices I made in the past. I guess we all learn as we go.

Anyway, a while back I started writing a series of posts trying to celebrate some of these amazing people, particularly the women, but for some reason I let that series fade into the oblivion of my blog. I’d like to refer you to those posts again:

Those posts just skim the surface of the incredible people I count among my friends. The list also includes:

  • Heidi, a talented and passionate high school English teacher in Durango, CO who I count among my best friends and miss very much. She taught me about what it means to fight through the hard times, to challenge yourself and the world around you.
  • Kristie, another talented and passionate high school English teacher. (I’d love to have Heidi and Kristie meet, they would love each other). I led you to her blog post a short time ago, and now I would like to lead you to another. Any young person would be lucky to have a teacher have as wonderful as she is. She has taught me about the power of passion and what it takes to create a life full of purpose and joy.
  • Jesse, a man who showed me that it is possible to pursue art, care passionately about the world, and do something to make a difference. You can find more about him in my posts about Slovakia and Dramatic Adventure Theatre.
  • Mary K, Jesse’s soul mate, my soul friend. She has taught me what it means to live with a full and caring heart.
  • Christen, who I met through Jesse and Mary K. She is one of those people who combine beauty (inside and out) with compassion, intelligence, talent and an amazing attitude toward life.
  • Mike. I only actually met Mike in person, once, at our farewell party when Nathan and I left Kansas.  Leaving him and his fabulous (new) wife Lily, is one of the big regrets I have about spending such a short time there. They are both talented and wonderful people who challenge me to question what I believe and think on a regular basis, in a really good way.
  • Barb, another brilliant women who has no fear about fighting passionately for what she believes in, especially when it comes to the rights of children to an education that suits their individual needs.
  • Amanda, an incredibly brilliant and talented woman who has taught me about pursuing dreams and setting goals for oneself, even when others say “No, you can’t do that.”
  • Beth. Someone who has known me for a long, long, long time. She has shown me how to stand up for family, and what it means to be a lioness of a mother.

My list could go on and on. With each name I write, I think of another. There are many now, that I count among my friends and yet I’ve never met in person. Those are the friends I’ve made through this blog. You can find stories of most of these people sprinkled throughout my blog. They are the people who’ve helped me become a better person. They are the people whose friendship makes me want to be a better person, or strive to achieve even in a small way the things I see them achieve each and every day.

So today, as part of my celebration, I celebrate them as well as all those friends whose names I missed, but whose lives have enriched my own. Thank you friends. I love you all.

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Who are the people in your life that you would like to celebrate? Who makes your life richer just because you’ve met them and count them as friends?

Visit Me at Tori’s “Tiny Spark Series”

You all know her from her courageous decision to hold a Very Bloggy Wedding where she entrusted bloggers world-wide to help her plan her own wedding. From the pictures, the end result was fabulous.

I know her as Tori, an amazon goddess of a woman with a joyous smile, a wonderful son, and an ability with words that continues to amaze. She’s also one of the bloggers I have met and so I feel privileged to be able to count her among my friends.

Last month, she announced that she would be doing the “Tiny Spark Series” which she described in this way:

“Starting in December we’ll hear from several amazing folks about the effects of unexpected good.

During those moments in life so blacked-out and dark we can’t see a hand right in front of us, what happened/ when/ how did you know there was must be a candle and a match out there somewhere?What flipped the switch and lit your life up to full blaze?”

To my honor and surprise, she asked me to contribute to the series, and my contribution, called “Looking for the End of the Rainbow One Day at a Time” appears today. Please go visit my post, and then treat yourself with  a wander through the wit and wisdom of Tori’s writing. She has the power to make you laugh until you pee in your pants while doing a spit take; but she also can make you cry at the beauty and power and sometimes terror of motherhood. Every time she writes, she confronts the assumptions of what it takes to be a living, breathing, loving, caring, happy person in a world gone mad.

I have found so many people who serve as “tiny sparks” through the words of their blog, as well as through the opportunities that come along each day. Sometimes it’s harder to see the spark, or take the steps needed to build that spark into a fire. I may not know what the future brings, but I know that my life will continue to be filled with moments and people who know how to make those sparks grow.

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In Honor of Love Surpassing Time

Ashes drift swiftly
over ocean waves
to settle down
into the deep
where lovers meet.

Uncle Gene has passed
to join his beloved
Auntie Helen
in a lover’s dance over the waves.

Married after many marriages
their love grew strong
supporting each other
through unprecedented loss of a beloved daughter
and a son-in-law  who died later of a broken heart.

Their love blessed our marriage
Great Aunt Helen only approved
my marriage to her favorite niece’s son
after tasting the magic
of Mom’s applesauce spice cake
made with my nervously loving hands
in the desert of Arizona.
Together they moved to
beloved Hawaii
to spend their waning years
in beauty
in color
in peace.

But Auntie Helen
left too soon
her ashes flying
and sinking
beyond Gene’s reach.

Gene lived on
with loving hands supporting him
until the time came
for him to let go.

95 years old.

His ashes will soon
drift swiftly
over ocean waves
to settle down
into the deep
where lovers meet.

RIP Uncle Gene 1917-2012

It All Comes Down to Relationships, Connections and Communication

On January 9th Nathan and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, which means we have been together about 17 years.

Of course, I celebrated by taking a bus and a train from Zdiar to Bratislava, and then eating spinach and chicken pirohy followed by a decadent streussal for dessert. Nathan worked and then spent the evening with Sarah.

Strange anniversary, wouldn’t you say? But I don’t regret it one bit.

To make up for it, Nathan and I are heading to a Bed and Breakfast somewhere for the night. I don’t know where, and he decided to keep it a surprise.

Sometimes surprises are good for a relationship, just as sometimes time apart can help strengthen the bonds.

As I thought about this, I realized that one thing that we all have in common, no matter where we are from, is the desire for connection, for love, for relationships. Those relationships and connections come in all shapes and sizes. Some are healthy, some are not. Some require constant tending, and some freedom to breathe

On this trip, I observed a lot of different relationships, and a lot of ways of communicating within those relationships. Communication, however, is key, even across the barriers of culture. Some of the relationships I observed included:

  • the young married couple who do everything together, including running the theater company, travelling, working, helping, dreaming, and planning for the future. They are still very much in the honeymoon stage, and watching them together gives even the hardest heart hope for the power of a truly committed couple
  • the young couple who met on one of these adventures and balance each other perfectly. They both love writing and words and travel and people. He is more reserved, she is more outgoing, but the things that differ between them make them a stronger whole.
  • The very newly married Roma couple who,  as someone else said, “Are two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly.”
  • The husband and wife owners of a Privat, who were perhaps the most adorable people I’ve every met. She was sweet and had a kind smile. He went out of his way to fix my glasses when they broke. You just know they are extremely happy together, and it shows in the comfort of their home.
  • The businessman/celebrity couple where I only met the celebrity half. She was supposed to be our guide on this trip, but she had to back out because he was going to America for business and if she wanted to see him she would have to go to. Oh, to have the flexible freedom to travel at the drop of a hat.
  • A slightly strange love triangle, which I will not go into here. Let’s just say that in situations like this, sometimes people try to create connections out of thin air, either as part of the adventure or because they are surrounded by other couples.

As much of this trip was about making connections, since the goal for Dramatic Adventure Theatre was to start a relationship with people in the country to establish the possibility of future projects (we were very successful), I found myself thinking a lot about how we connect and communicate with each other. One thing I realized is how often we learn to connect to each over meals. I wonder if the world’s problems could be solved by simply breaking bread together?

Our first meal as a group in Slovakia. I had beef goulash which was delicious. I loved the warm, cozy atmosphere of this traditional Slovakian restaurant.

Cozy colors and curves make for a comfortable atmosphere to make connections.

During the first couple of nights of the trip we stayed at a hostel in Bratislava. Now I have, I admit, outgrown the desire to stay in hostels. The first night was especially challenging because of the group of loud Russian travelers who spent the night smoking, drinking, and arguing right outside our window. However,  it was a fun and inexpensive way to get to know some of my fellow travelers. The girl’s bright orange and yellow room became the location of  a lot of silly hilarity including a fake fur muff turned elaborate head piece and a visit from a “ghost.”  All, of course, as we began to learn to communicate with each other and make connections.

Silly stuff at the hostel.

The hostel became the first place where I began to understand the thing that connects all human beings–the search for connections, relationship, friendship, understanding and love.  During our second night there my sleep was disturbed by a loud discussion under my window, a discussion that I understood even without hearing every word. Here is an excerpt from my journal written in the wee hours of the morning:

“I awoke early from a sleep filled with both heaviness and distraction all night long. I accidentally pulled the cord attached to the red lamp on the ledge above my head, pulling it down on me. The lamp itself has been humorous as it sat in the window overlooking an alley which isn’t exactly in the “nicest” part of town. “We’re open for business,” I jokingly say as I turn the red light on in the darkness of the night.

I would have gone back to sleep, if not for the discussion being held under my window in heavily accented (British or Kiwi or Australian) English. I don’t need to hear word for word this conversation to understand that it involves women, jealousy, friendships, alcohol, random hookups, stupid mistakes and a little fear. All that asked me, no forced me, to start writing, not just this journal entry but a ‘shitty first draft’ poem that staggered out of my pen, rather than flowed.”

Here is the poem that began me thinking about relationships and communication:

“It All Comes Down to Communication.”

Voices carrying in passionate discussion
from the street below.
Anger, sadness, frustration
in accents that challenge the ear.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

The discussion will continue
but end without cure
As language pours upon
blocked ears.Unwillingness
to hear, to listen.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

One cries, one lectures, one breaks tension with jokes.
Women arguing over men, broken hearts
and broken friendships.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

Sudden silence as they disappear
leaving behind the echoing remnants
of words said from heart and gut
completely bypassing the ears.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

The voices return with a new one in the mix.
Male tones join the fray.
Church bells ring the early morning
as the debate starts the day.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

Difference doesn’t matter.
Language doesn’t matter.
We all live lives filled
with love, hurt, pain, jealousy
with fears, hopes sadness and joy.
I don’t need to know the language,
I’ve seen it all before.

If everyone learned to really listen
and hear the humanity inside
then we would focus on
connections and understanding.
Body language reveals the not-so-hidden tensions
between people who’ve never met
filled with the hatred and judgement of centuries,
of culture, of difference.

I  don’t need to understand, I’ve known it all before.

Photo taken by Isa McKinney. Visit her blog for more insight into our Slovakian Adventure. (I've linked the picture to her blog)

Lessons Learned in 2011

This has been a year of change for me, as well as a year of final absorbing some of the lessons that I’ve been trying to understand my whole life.  I have learned . . .

  • . . . to “Expect the unexpected”

  • “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

  • “The journey is the reward.”
  • “Be open to whatever happens.”
  • I am not my degrees or my title.
  • “Nature heals.”

  • Art heals.
  • You carry home inside of you.
  • “Creative is a verb!” It’s important to live life creatively.
  • Friendship comes in many sizes and shapes, but it is one of the most precious gifts on earth.

  • Live life so you will not look back with regrets.
  • Memories are precious.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Words have power.
  • Belief and passion are priceless.

My list could go on and on, as I have learned a lot this year, but I would rather hear from you. What lessons have you learned during 2011 and how did you learn them?

Night Marchers in the Bathroom Help Me Discover Another Fabulous Friend

When New Friends Meet

“Oh my God, Lisa! You have to get in here!”

The cry came from the bathroom of my apartment in Hawaii. It was a strange cry coming from a relatively new friend, also named Lisa, who was taking a shower at my place when a day of getting to know each other better became one long string of adventures.

The next thing I know, she bursts out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, gorgeous red hair streaming water. “I’m serious Lisa, you’ve got to hear this.”

I hesitantly follow her back into the bathroom where the shower is still running.  “What is it?’ I ask. Everything seemed the same as when I had taken my shower just a short time earlier.

“Shh! Listen, can you hear that drumming?” I listened carefully, and suddenly tuned in on what sounded like distant rhythmic drumming. It wasn’t water in the pipes. It wasn’t a drummer practicing a set. It was the very distant drums of ritual.

“What is that?” I asked.

“It’s the Night Marchers.”

“The what?”

“The Night Marchers. And I think we are lucky that we were taking showers, because it probably saved our lives.”

“What?”

A true friendship formed as she explained the legend; a friendship that started when Nathan introduced me to one of his best high school friends and has lasted through the years as she became a truly fabulous woman, mother, and citizen of this earth.

 

This story reveals how my fascination with the supernatural opened the door to another amazing person in my life who I wish to celebrate.

The Legend of the Night Marchers

The Night Marchers are

ghostly apparitions of a band of beings who move with purpose to the beat of primitive pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors en route to or from battle, toting archaic weaponry and clothed in decorated helmets and cloaks. Other accounts tell of high-ranking alii (ruler) spirits being guided to places of high importance or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. (http://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php)

In Hawaiian legend, to look upon the Night Marchers and meet them in the eye means death, as the Marchers take them with you on their lonely march. However, you can save yourself from this fate by averting your eyes and crouching down. Or, according to Lisa on that particular day, “they won’t take you if you are naked.”

Good thing, isn’t it, since they seemed to be moving through my shower?

Lasting Friendship Formed

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think our meeting with the Night Marcher’s came on, perhaps, the second day of our friendship. Nathan and Lisa had been best friends in high school. When she came back to the island for a visit after Nathan and I started dating, he introduced us, and within minutes it was like we had known each other forever.   Nathan was not with us on the day of the Night Marchers, I believe we had decided we just needed to get to know each other better and have a girls’ day. It became one of those days where you plan on doing one thing, and then you add on another, and another, until all of a sudden you’ve had a complete day full of adventures. I don’t remember all the details of that day (although I do recall a cop trying to pull us over for an out-of-date sticker or something, and Lisa managing to talk us out of it because her dad was a policeman and the cop recognized her–I was impressed).

I don’t know if the spooky beginnings cemented our relationship or what, but I have been honored to know Lisa these many years, and to count her among my closest (although long-distant) friends. Lisa is one of those amazing women that fights for what she believes in, and especially for justice, equality, and the rights of children. She used to work for Teach for America, then went on to pursue journalism, where she eloquently wrote about education. She then moved onto working for the public education system. Throughout it all, she has provided a passionate pursuit for change and the importance of an educational system that truly succeeds. She hasn’t always had it easy, as she became the victim of politics (as often happens to good people). But, despite the struggles, she always keeps a positive attitude and a caring heart. When I last spent time with her (she’s the one who took me for my first pedicure) she was trying to alleviate tensions between an offended rabbi and some people who unintentionally insulted him through naiveté. (I’m not sure the end result, I’ll have to find out).

Her husband, Matt, is also an incredible person, advocating for and supporting first-generation college students to help them succeed. Together they represent a truly caring, intelligent couple that wants nothing more than to live a life full of love, and share that love with others.

Lisa and Matt

Lisa and I are more than just friends. In many ways we are sisters, and I am so lucky for that. I was there when her now husband Matt proposed to her. While I wasn’t there when she gave birth to her first child a few months before I gave birth to mine, those two girls have since met and immediately became fast friends. In many ways, I think the spirit world has intervened to make souls come together who were destined to meet.

Instant friends, sisters at heart.

It just goes to show you that eerie things might happen, but perhaps messages from beyond are messages intended to help, not to harm. I’m sure Lisa and I would have been friends anyway, but it didn’t hurt to get a little nudge from the Night Marchers. (By the way, I only heard them one more time in that bathroom, and I listened for them all the time).

Farewell is a Hard Word to Say

Sometimes I wish I had been one of those people who never left home, and was content staying in the town she grew up in living among family and friends who have known her forever.

But I’m not. Instead I have been a person who travels, gathering experiences and friends wherever I go.

Yet, I find it difficult to make friends, difficult to trust. Not because of my travelling ways but for numerous other reasons that are difficult to explain or understand. I am shy. I doubt my worthiness as a friend. I don’t feel cool enough.  I don’t want to intrude. All of these reasons and more make it challenging for me to become close to people.

So when I connect with people in a deep way, I don’t want to let them go. And yet, inevitably, the time comes for the next part of journey and I have to say goodbye to people I’ve only just begun to know. This time is particularly bittersweet, as our stay here has been so short.

While I know I must say goodbye, I hope that the connections I’ve made in this world continue to grow and strengthen. The people I’ve met along the way have all become part of my story and I hope that I am still part of theirs.

Farewell my friends from Independence. I will miss you all.

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Don’t call me Drama Queen and Other Rules of Interaction

A few years ago, at Thanksgiving, I tried to share with my mother something that was really bothering me. I don’t remember exactly what it was; I think it had something to do with my sister. But that doesn’t really matter, what does matter was that she actually responded with, “Lisa, don’t be such a drama queen.”

I lost it.

“I hate when you call me that! Just because I feel something doesn’t mean I am a drama queen.”

And that’s the truth.

I learned to keep my emotions to myself, to the detriment of my own health. I learned to keep things inside because letting them out leads to accusations of being over-dramatic and over-sensitive. But of course, keeping things inside add to the truly dramatic moments such as this particular one with my mother, a crying screaming fest of hurt feelings and accusations that led nowhere.

Sarah is a lot like me, in that she is emotional and is very hard on herself. Yesterday she started crying in the morning when I asked if she had practiced the piano the day before (she spent the day at the theater with Nathan, while I tried to get some things done at home).

“I forgot,” she cried. “And I have a lesson today!” The end of the world as we know it.

“It’s okay, Sarah. Michelle will understand.”

When I picked her up after school she said, “I’m sorry I got so upset this morning.”

“Why did you?” I asked.

“Because I was angry at myself.”

She is me.

So, how does one interact with a person who internalizes every perceived error as further evidence of the imperfections of her own personality? How do you comfort someone who sees the world through emotions? How do you help someone who is  hardest on herself?

How do you interact with yourself?

Here are some suggested rules of interaction with this type of individual:

  • Don’t call her drama queen. It hurts and it’s not true.
  • Acknowledge her feelings and then try to get her to look at them intellectually. “Why do you think you are so angry at yourself for dropping the cup?”
  • Allow her to feel things, but remind her that not everyone sees things the same ways she does.
  • Tell her you love her even when she makes mistakes.

And of course, perhaps the most important rule of them all:

Don’t feed the Drama Queen! It makes her fat and even more dramatic.

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