A List Of Ten Things ~ Cinematic Dessert

I am no movie connoisseur. I actually had a difficult time spelling it, connoisseur, not movie. I once texted my nephew, who is actually a movie critic, during a showing of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Though it wasn’t my choice of movie, it was a sacrifice for the family,  I felt a certain coolness from him for some time afterward. I can’t really blame him.

Movies are an essential part of our lives here at the YFR&ZAR. From the darker offerings to those of hope and redemption, it is not uncommon for us to share a cinematic delicacy together. Here are ten I find particularly diverting

  1. Every single one of the Harry Potter movies. If someone from our household finds one playing on TV, all other options are tossed. Thus my fondness for the acronym, WWDD… What would Dumbledore do? Harry Potter makes me feel magical and brave.
  2. The Family Stone. We watch it at Christmas and find a lot of similarities in our family. I have asked repeatedly if I am as mean as the mom and if I have to die for it to be authentic. My children assure me that this would be not as much fun. It makes me feel homey and real.
  3. Groundhog Day. Who doesn’t love to see Bill Murray redeemed? love to see Bill Murray redeemed.
  4. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty pleased me. It’s soundtrack was excellent. It made me feel hope.
  5. Grosse Pointe Blank may be the best movie of them all. Not only is it quotable but it’s laugh out loud when you’re alone, funny. Makes me feel pleased. Pleased that there’s killer dialog out there.
  6. kill bill iiiKill Bill and Kill Bill II. This is not for the squeemish… or those who don’t dig swearing. This movie is so over-the-top and full of comic book awesome. It’s a Terantino flick… I think you know what I’m sayin’. Makes me feel powerful.
  7. Pride and Prejudice is romantic and beautiful and everything good. I love this movie. I love this movie. I love this movie. Makes me want to kiss Mr Dreamboat.
  8. Recent movies please me so much. Both Chef and 100 Foot Journey. They’re about food, they’re about goodness, they’re about happiness. They make me feel like I should eat something with umami in it.
  9. All three of the Bourne movies. Because he is awesome, and because we all feel a little disoriented sometimes. Makes me feel like if I had no other ties, I too could be an assassin. Wait, did I just say that out loud?
  10. Shrek. Because we all feel a little green and smelly from time to time.

Like it, share it, comment about your “go to” flicks and tweet. Because we are cinematic goers.

Moldy Chi ~ What’s Growing Under Your Bed?

You might ask me, were we sitting together over a cup of morning tea (I’d opt for maybe a Chai Lite herbal. You?), “Michelle, so how was your weekend?” and I would answer honestly and boldly, “Not as awesome as I would have liked.” Because I am honest, and because you asked, so I assume you were sincere.

The reason it was not as awesome as I would have liked is that I spent it on the couch. No apologies. No regrets.

The good news is that it turned out I didn’t have a fatal cancer or anything so dramatic, I do  have insurance, I did make it into Urgent Care with ten minutes to spare, and they do have a cure for a simple, yet horrifyingly painful infection.

By Sunday morning I was feeling much more like myself and I was ready to cast off the malaise that can horn in on us when we’ve been feeling under the weather. Fortifying myself with a bit of caffeine was a great move and since I’m not one to revel in misery (at least I am told this is so), I wanted to take it a bit further. I wanted to feel better than fine, I wanted to feel well.

Recently I read an article about feng shui and simple steps we can make to clean our minds and our spaces. I had enough energy for a few simple steps and even without the article to spur me on, I knew what would make me feel well.

chiI live in “my head” quite often. I’ve been told this by others and I know it because I live it. It comes as no surprise then, that the bedside table that sits on my side, as well as the floor space adjoining it gets cluttered. Easily. With books and candles, tissue and jewelry, with suitcases and with electronics.

Interestingly, I feel it. I’ve been seeing it and feeling it for a few weeks. It so perfectly represents the clutter I collect in my mind and I know if I want to clear things out, a good place to start is the figurative head, the head of my bed.

Let’s face it, not only did I have a physical infection in my body, my chi was getting moldy. It happens. Don’t judge.

Experts tell us that our outside manifestations are representative of what’s going on inside us. I can add my personal experience to that. The way we feel comes out in the way we represent ourselves and sometimes to kickstart our insides, we take seemingly superficial steps on the outside and make a world of difference.

No one wants to admit their chi is moldy. It’s just not proper. But it happens to the best of us. Sometimes all it takes to get past it is a few easy steps in the right direction.

Like it, share it, comment and tweet about it. It’s just good energy to do it;)

Master Gardener Of Your Soul ~ Michelle Church

One of my delightful childhood memories is of the “Victory Garden” my grandmother and mother planted each year. Grandma raised many children during the Great Depression and I think the habit was with her, and the skill as well.

Would that I were.
Would that I were.

Every year, according to my memory, we had a garden that must have been at least a quarter of an acre. The space was used well and I recall piles and piles of fresh, ripe tomatoes, jars of green beans and jams lining the counter during the harvest. We even had a buried old freezer in the back yard that acted as a root cellar full of carrots.

Of course when I started my own family with a bit of land to myself I continued the tradition. Visions of home grown, organic produce filled my dreams. Go big or go home! I told myself.

Turns out I should have just gone home. Even these many years later, probably because I’ve never had to rely heavily on my crops, my very best gardening years have been scraggly and ill kept. I’ve had some good tomato crops but never have I lined my counters with the red, glowing bulbs reduced to jarred elegance.

If I’m being frank, and you know I lean toward it, I suck at gardening.

I was at my most shamed when I went to a friend to ask for help with a sad strawberry crop. “I suck at this,” I easily admitted. “What am I doing wrong?”

J’dean is a good friend and even though she is practically a master gardener she made me feel okay about it. “It’s a bad year for strawberries,” she confided, “Don’t worry about it. Gardening is an experiment ever year.”

It is this advice that has kept me in the gardening ring. Every year I give it another go, though I sometimes wonder if I was born with only one green thumb and it’s the one that was cut off in a farm accident.

But this is Michelle Church and I do have a point. If gardening is a challenge, how much more difficult is religion? With it’s always changing landscape and an ever changing world and life and personality, how will we ever get it right? When will I have my spiritual “Victory Garden”, or am I destined for scraggly green beans and questionable cucumbers for the rest of my transcendent days?

No doubt even as I ask the question I know there is no valid answer. Every day we plant seeds of one sort or another in our hearts. And we watch them grow and hope the environment and the psychic weather will grow something lovely and grand. And all we have is hope and all we can rely on is faith. Every garden and every season will be different. No getting around that, master gardener or no.

Like, share, tweet, comment and plant your seeds, baby. Who knows when you’re going to need a bumper crop.

“The Secret” Is A Bunch Of Hooey

It’s not easy to admit that I am a devotee of The Secret. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about the ideology, it’s just the way we’ve translated it into our lives.

If we just have happy thoughts and good feels all the time then we shall never have anything sad in our lives. Want some jewelry? Just think real hard on it and a handsome man will be there for your, cuz every woman needs a handsome man to give her jewelry. Really? Reeeeeeeally?

This criticism aside, I do believe there’s a ton of value to it. When we look for things to be grateful over, they magically multiply. When we take steps in faith toward seemingly insurmountable goals the next steps appear for us. And…

There are times when the genie appears and makes the way easier for us, and then there are those other times. There are those times when even though you love what you’re doing and feel passionate about it, no matter how hard you try, to put on a happy face, what you’re doing can be described as nothing more than work. No getting around it. Work. Plain and simple.

Along with that work, sometimes bad stuff happens to us and we don’t deserve it and we weren’t on some sort of energetic resonation with the hell we’re going through. Sometimes there is work. Sometimes life hands us lemons. I would even go so far as to say it hands us a load of crap. That is life. The end.

Right now, things are going remarkable smoothly for me. I am enjoying work and relationships. I am reveling in creative endeavors and dreams culminating around me. And I’m enjoying every minute of it.

I wouldn’t say I’m fearful of the next shoe dropping, but it is in the contrast that I find joy in this moment. I know it won’t last because life is impermanent on every level. All of it.

And maybe that’s the actual secret. To know that we are transient beings, our suffering is as fleeting as our joys and it is in the bitter we learn to enjoy the sweet. That’s where I am today. I’m in the sweet and I plan on sucking the juice out of the peach that is, at this moment, my life.

And you? If you happen to have a handful of lemons that life so graciously handed you, call lemonsquaresme. We’ll make lemon squares together, because people like us prefer not to drink our calories.

Like it, share it, comment all about it and tweet like the birds, even if you’re in a public place. I dare you.

If You Want More Of It You’ll Need To Give It Away

A month or so ago I was privileged and delighted to be at a weekend retreat with a few dozen women. I certainly didn’t get the sleep I needed, but I’ll sleep when I’m dead, but my soul was rejuvenated and I was reminded that women are good and strong and powerful. I’m grateful to be one.


The reason I had to be reminded is that sometimes I think we hide our light. Women are curious beings, ask any man. We have passions and interests, we have skills and compassion and yet there are times we simply shove them into a hole and we walk out into life like withered flowers. So painful is this habit that we sometimes, unconsciously, wither those around us. You know, misery loves company, I suppose.

The beautiful souls I spent the weekend with were conscious. Please do not imagine them in their perfection. Don’t believe everyone was rich and famous and deeply intelligent, though none of us would complain were that true. Imagine women who are warm, women who are curious and kind, bravely sharing their light and their love and their passion for life.

I am regularly reminded how powerful women are. I come across them every day. I do business with them and I frequent their homes.

To be sure, we are each those women, the good ones, the brave ones, the gentle hearts. But how often are we the withered flowers taking pleasure in finding fault and gathering like-minded company?

I have been “that girl” more times than I’m happy to admit. I sometimes watch her from afar as she scowls through her day and I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really like her. I believe deep in my heart the more I observe her without judgment I will see less of her. After all, she is me and I know for sure I need unconditional love and understanding.

I hope to spend more time with the delightful women I know from all areas of my life, and I hope to spend more time with myself, when I am in that form. And when I do that, when we do it, cast off the armor, be our authentic lovely selves, I believe we will inspire others to do the same.

We need more of us. We just have to be them.

Like, share, comment, tweet and look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how dazzling she is. Do it. Right… NOW!

Finding That Elusive Magic ~ Your Guide

The other night I watched my daughter build a fire. I was transfixed. I believe the method was the “log house” style. She was precise and methodical in each movement.

campfireThough I was convinced that nothing built with that much skill could fail, she was not persuaded of its success until each phase, first the paper lighting the kindling and slowly convincing the sticks to catch until the logs too were hot enough to take flight and burn. A warm and robust fire crackled cooperatively at her hands.

I have coached my daughter through many situations. I was her go-to for sustenance and safety when she was a baby, I was instrumental in her formal education and have been by her side as she lost and gained boyfriends and friends alike. But I never taught her how to build a fire.

Fire building is a skill she obtained in her voyage through life and if she has surpassed my skills so thoroughly in this area, what else has she gained without my help?

Far from being jealous or concerned, this actually makes me hungry for the knowledge and anxious to have the woman I raised teach me her magic.

Further, if my daughter, the one I raised and laughed and cried with, has magic I was never even aware of, how much magic passes me by every day? It’s everywhere I’m guessing, in the waitress serving your eggs and the postman delivering your mail. It’s in the spouse who is on your very last nerve and the driver who may have just cut you off.

We are magical creatures, we human beings. We are flawed and lovely and full of unrealized potential. I sometimes think all we have to do is look for it and Wham! it will spark up! Were we to carefully tend to that spark and feed it and nurture it with excitement and love and interest, imagine the robust and warm glow that could emanate from every person with whom we come across.

I’m going to ask Zoë to teach me how to build a fire. It’s a skill we should all have. And I’m going to figure out how to build a fire in the people around me. That’s the kind of fire that could warm the whole world.

Cupid’s Arrow ~ A List Of Ten Quirky Love Truths

A fabulous romantic comedy is a delight to my soul. I love to see people riding in and saving one another and because Hollywood has seen fit to allow women to save men from time to time, I applaud them. Beyond that, I’m going to have to withhold my affection.

Where they can do a nice job tugging at our heartstrings, much of the time the movie industry gets it all wrong. Having been in love for many, many years (What’s that you say? I can’t possibly be that old? Thank you. Thank you very much.), I’m just going to have to call BS on much of it.

A person who only points out the problems without offering a solution is of no help at all, so with that, I give you ten things that are actually romantic but Hollywood will never tell you this.

  1. Flowers are nice and all, but other stuff like buying tampons, bringing home chocolate before you asked for it and putting up with your obnoxious… I mean quirky personality characteristics, these things trump flowers 99% of the time.
  2. Getting old together is sexy. Face it, we’re all going to do it. How much more fun to do it together?
  3. Adding to the sexy pot (get what I just did there?), is laughing in bed. Truly, this is not the place to take yourself too seriously. Laughter beats the passionate-rip-your-clothes-off lustfest over and over again. That’s science, my friends.
  4. Being in love does not look like a love song every day for years on end. Sometimes, but not all the time. Sometimes it just looks like someone who is willing to get up with the baby because you want to die if you can’t sleep. Sometimes it looks like you being willing to squash every gag reflex you’ve ever had and clean up mystery goo that may or may not carry the bubonic plague in its viscous, green sloppiness. I just teared up. And I gagged too.hearts
  5. Real love looks like celebrating the other person’s victories. And it looks like telling your lover their fly is down, and has been for half a day and then reassuring them that probably nobody noticed… even though that’s a total lie.
  6. Also, real love is about lying sometimes. Don’t get your hopes up, philanderers. It’s not the deception kind, it’s the kind where you choose the best words and the kindest thoughts to buoy someone over ugliness that isn’t helpful. Do with this what you will.
  7. Sometimes true love looks like friendship. Exactly like it. The thing people can sometimes fail to see is that later it looks like romantic love and another day it might look like care-giving and then back again. True love is a moving, living, breathing entity. You just have to trust it.
  8. True love is full of symbolic moments that equal short-hand conversations. It’s a look across the room and it’s sometimes a kick under the table. After almost 28 years together Mr Dreamboat has finally come to understand if I do, indeed, kick him under the table, stopping the entire conversation to ask me why I did it is a bad idea. That’s true love.
  9. Probably Hollywood opts out of the truth because it’s not always pretty-with-a-bow. True love is sometimes work, sometimes sacrifice and if you’re all in, it’s sometimes going to get dirty. That’s just how it is folks. I don’t make this stuff up. I just report it.
  10. Finally, and possibly most importantly, true love looks different every time a couple comes together and decides to give it a go. What is Cupid’s arrow through my heart may be a pot shot to your butt. Don’t let Hollywood or the radio dictate what makes your heart sing and the sun shine in your soul. Your life and your love are as unique as you are. Remember you, and your Mr/Mrs Dreamboat get to call the shots here. No one else. Not even Tom Cruise.

Like, share, tweet and comment and love, love, love.

Chasing The Sacred ~ Michelle Church

I have proclaimed to all who would take the time to read my electronic musings, that I am not a naturally spiritual person. I’ve also explained that my perspectives change quite regularly.

Today I see myself differently. The fact is, I think about spirituality and religion a lot. I am ever pondering, reading and inch by inch I move closer to the edge of the Abyss.

The Abyss lies just beyond the edge of what we know and is the beginning of the infinite unknowable. It is grand, it is deep and it is profound. And it scares me. I’m not gonna lie.

Far greater minds than mine have wrestled with the Abyss. It seems there is no end to the books, essays and opinions about the great beyond, the nature of God and how it is exactly we should live our lives. Sometimes these resources describe it all down to the letter. I wonder if there are backstage passes into heaven. How else could you get such detailed instructions?

As I try to make sense of it all, try to tie things up in nice little bows and bring mental order to that which is sometimes nonsensical ideology and peculiar practices, what guides me on my path again and again is Leonardo Da Vinci.



The faster I run after “truth” the further behind I find myself and that is when I remember Leonardo. It is simplicity.

Chasing the sacred is an exercise in futility, the proverbial dog circling after its own tail. We will not find it in the incensed rituals provided us by organizations, we cannot find it in a check list or in the tight nods of approval from others.

It is in the smallest of moments, the most gentle of blessings, in the sunshine on the morning dew, and in the faces of the human beings surrounding us.

I have found the sacred in my pain. I’ve found it in communing with a stranger. It has lit upon my shoulder like a rare and beautiful butterfly in the most mundane of moments.

Indeed it seems the sacred can reside with us only when we stop running and start listening, only when we choose to see it in others instead of trying to create it in ourselves.

Each of us is a spiritual being. And every one of us is living a sacred life, a beautiful gift. There is no need to chase after it. It is here. It is yours. It is simple.

Like, share, tweet, comment. Thanks. Thanks for being you.

The Cure To What Ails You ~ My Gift To You

I’m not bragging, but if they gave out armchair psychology degrees, I’m certain I’d have a doctorate. It’s not just a passive interest. I’ve taken classes and regularly read articles on Psychology Today. Well, I read most of the articles. Sometimes they’re just sooooo long.
With my Armchair Doctorate in hand, my AD if you will, I have made the following observations:

One of the most dangerous states of mind is the one where we feel completely alone. Whether it’s childhood trauma or feelings we’re not sure what to do with, it is a hazardous game of chicken we play when we keep it to ourselves, believing with no actual accuracy that we are the only ones.

One of my favorite shows ever was Arrested Development. The peculiar character of Tobias Funkë once said about his own affliction, being a nevernude, “There are dozens of us!” Certainly Tobias is a little kooky, but being in a group of dozens is way better than being all-alone. We are social creatures. We seek to understand and we desire to be understood.

As much as I am a closet introvert, I too seek emotional communion. Whether it’s in the pleasure of success and anticipation, or the agony of dreams gone awry, to know that we are known, to feel that we are understood, these are things that are gifts to the soul and salve to the human spirit.

I recently had a deeply intimate conversation with a friend about family. I wouldn’t call us close friends, but she felt safe and as I listened I knew there was nothing that she required of me. All she needed was to be understood. I may not have the exact kind of struggles as she does, but I know pain. I understand the struggle. We all do.

This post, it’s about support. Wherever you find yourself on your own personal path of life, you should know you’re not alone. I need to tell you that you’re not weird or different or wrong in what you feel or how life is. Not only that, if you’re experiencing amazing successes and epic wins, feel a virtual high five from the offices of Michelle At Play. Feel it, know I am happy for you and you deserve to celebrate.

We are not alone, my friends, unless we choose to be. You don’t have to choose to be. We are each fatally flawed as evidenced by the fact that we were given a one way ticket to the undertaker upon entrance into this world. No getting around it. So make it a good one. Let down your hair. Know you are known and if you think of it, lend a helping hand to the next guy, be a shoulder to cry on and high five the next person you see on a winning streak.

Who knows what your next adventure is going to be? What we do know is that we won’t want to go it alone. And we don’t have to. Because there are, at least, dozens of us.

Comment, share, tweet and like it. So I know I’m not alone. Cuz I need you just as much as you need me.