A Pre-Emptive Strike Against The Holidays ~ A List Of Ten

As the holidays approach so rises the level of anxiety of much of the modern world. We love them, we spend money on them, we look forward to them all year long. And yet…

It is my opinion that if we simply give them the respect they deserve, nothing more, nothing less, we can alleviate much of the stress, many of the doctor’s bills and over indulgence that simply leaves one with regrets and extra pounds.

Here are a few tips to get you on the way to THE BEST HOLIDAYS EVER.

1. Get over the “My holiday can beat up your holiday” trap. All holidays are not created equal. We enjoy what we enjoy and there’s not apologizing for it. If you like tofu and some quiet time on Thanksgiving, do it. No excuses. Our Successful Holiday Anthem? You do you. Repeat and rinse.
2. You have enjoyed many holidays before and likely you will enjoy holidays for many years to come. You don’t need to have your BEST HOLIDAY EVER this year. Put down the tinsel and step away from the tree, ma’am.
3. When we let go of overreaching expectations, often the magic comes to us rather than us chasing after the magic.
4. Because this isn’t your first, nor your last, you don’t need to eat all of the delicious things you like to eat. Eat some of them. Feel no guilt. And simultaneously remember more is less enjoyable and your future self will thank your past self with your past self made healthy food choices.
5. Look for magic. Watch the eyes of those you love, enjoy the little things and know that however grand or humble your holidays might seem, the magic is there. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to find it.
6. We were taught the magic word was please and we must admit it’s served us well. There’s always room for more tools in the tool box so, your next magic word to master is; No. Don’t bother accessorizing it with fancy explanations and excuses. Turn down the party, the food that makes you itch and the opportunity to spend more money than your future self would like to carry the burden for. It’s simple and complete. No.
7. The killer of all dreams and good events and all holiday fun is guilt. She’s an ugly mistress and, though traditionally inclusivity is the order for the holidays, lock that b*tch out. If you do over-indulge, if you do spend a bit more than you should have, get over it. Life is a journey, not an exercise in perfection.
8. Make these for the holidays. If you’re gluten free, make them with gf flour. I mean it. And bring me some, will ya?
9. See the good in others. See their efforts and try to understand those who disappoint you. Be the light of the holidays.
10. In the quiet moments of reflection with which you are blessed, be kind to yourself. Say nice things and remember you are a child of the Universe and deserve the richest and most wondrous It has to offer.

Like, share, comment, tweet and do your warm up exercises, it’s a long run from here.


It’s All Relative ~ A User’s Guide To Judging Others For Fun & Profit

I’m reading The Elegant Universe… again… in the hopes of understanding more than the scant 5-10% I understood the first time. The odds aren’t in my favor. I’m just going to have to be honest about that.

Since my first go-round I’ve read a few other books that shed a bit more light on the subject, and in order to understand them better, I thought I’d go back to TEU. It hurts my brain, but I shall persevere.

This evening’s reading involved Einstein’s theory of relativity and intergalactic space travel. Or something like that.

Deep-Space-space-6911829-500-313This portion of the book introduces us to George and later on to Gracie. George is floating in deep space, not near anything. He’s motionless, when all of the sudden, and this is where things get interesting, he sees a flashing green light in the distance. As it gets closer and closer he sees Gracie floating past him going about 10 miles an hour.

He waves to her. He’s just that friendly.

Then the author takes us through the same scenario, only this time from Gracie’s perspective. She’s floating in space, minding her own business, motionless, when all of the sudden, she sees a red flashing light that approaches her going ten miles an hour and sure enough, it’s George.

They wave to one another as George passes by.

The two perspectives are equally valid based on relativity. That’s as far as I’ll go with the science-y stuff. If I go deeper I’ll surely mess it up.

What struck me in the story is how science mirrors life and vice versa. We see each other in life, we see posts and pictures and what we see is people moving faster than we are. We see lives that are more exciting, more accomplished and we imagine we are motionless. It can be a bit demoralizing sometimes.

Perhaps the best part of our George and Gracie situation is that they’re both out there doing their thing in space, they see each other and they give a wave. What they perceive and how they view it is nothing more than perspective. They could just as easily imagined they themselves were in motion and passing the other by.

Each of us is in motion and the science to the situation is simply that there’s really no way to know who is passing whom. There’s no finish line that I’m aware of and there’s no way to compare your apples to my oranges or potatoes or my Brussels sprouts.

It’s all relative, right?

The best we can do for the future of our planet and string theory and the laws of special relativity is to know we are moving, we’re on our own path and when a flashing red or green light comes closer, wave at the person in the space suit and wish them well on their way.

Like, share, comment, tweet and can anyone out there tutor me on this stuff? Mind. Blown.

Memoirs Of A Traveler ~ The Chicken Bus Of Life

From high altitudes I write to you today. On my way home from California, I sit near the front of the plane, not much different than a chicken bus if you think about it. Only without the chickens of course.

There are somewhere around 150 passengers on this particular chicken-less airbus. Besides the fact that we are all headed to the same place, without exception each of us has much in common with our entire mobile population.

chicken busThe curious thing, or one of them rather, about human beings is that we tend to separate ourselves. Perhaps we believe by claiming alliance with one organization or another we are safely defined. “I know who I am because I am a ______.” “I know who I am because I do this particular thing, have this particular interest or this specific heritage.”

It’s futile of course. We are all human beings on the philosophical Chicken Bus of life and we are all headed to exactly the same destination. Unlike today’s flight, we don’t get to choose, there is no choice.

Besides the inevitable end of your E-Ticket journey, what strikes me most powerfully is that we all have our scars. We’ve all been around the block a time or two even if that trip was simply childhood. As magical as we all claim it to be, it’s a tough gig and getting through it inescapably provides one scar or another.

No one rides for free.

It’s all quite exquisite if you think about it. Our differences keep things interesting and our similarities keep us related, keep us humble and make us family.

I am quite at ease today as I travel, if not with friends, at least with my human family.

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine one’s boss, nemesis or stranger on the street as family. Sure. That’s fair. But I challenge you to give it a try. Sure, it’s the nature of the human beast to feel alone and lonely from time to time, but with a bit of a shift in perspective there is an elegant and simple truth to the idea.

And it’s elegant and it makes me feel comfortable way up here in the sky. Well, as comfortable as anyone feels on a chicken bus.

Like, share, comment, tweet and get to know your neighbors!

One Time I Met God Outside ~ Michelle Church

Los Angeles this time of year is lovely. It is ever so slightly cool but you could certainly justify open toed shoes. It’s perfect weather if you prefer a fall wardrobe without the bitter edge of cold.

I am in California with Mr Dreamboat and we are attending a few events while we’re here. It’s the purpose for the trip actually. Mr Dreamboat attends a lot of events. I do not envy him.

Yesterday morning Mr D asked me if I’d like to drive to Orange County with him. In preparation for the 40-minute drive and the possible few hours I would have to amuse myself, I packed the following:

• A fully charged laptop
• An actual book, as well as
• My tablet which contains my fairly extensive library along with internet access and an endless selection of apps
• I took a small pallet and some
• Multi-use paper that takes watercolor well but is better designed to pen and ink
• I insisted on the keys to the car in case my amusements wore thin

You may call me Princess Preparedness.

We are a people of distractions. A people looking down at our electronic diversions. It is not unlikely you’ve walked in the out of doors, simultaneously checking your weather app for the weather.

Admit it. You’ve done this.

As blessed as we are to have the miracles of modernity at our fingertips and ubiquitous in our lives, the question must begod and man asked, what are we missing when we are so fixated on them?

If God is in the details, aren’t we giving him the cold shoulder when rather than looking up and seeing the vast heavens above us, we look down at a manmade contraption that may or may not give us the information for which we seek?

I am not an electronic basher. I love social media and the ability to be connected to everyone and everything 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But it is in our connections whether with the cashier at the grocery store or the child at our feet, that if we pay the full attention needed, we can see the face of God.

God is in the details. He is in the faces of “everyman”. He is in the scattered leaves and when we look up at the sky, our minds open to the ways of God.

It is in the ability to revel in all the miracles of the world, this is when we might on some small level, know the beautiful ways of a complex God.

I used a few of the things that I packed for our little, afternoon trip. But the delight of the day was in the conversations had, it was in the eucalyptus trees and in the time spent holding my best friend’s hand.

God is truly in the details. Let us all partake.

Like, share, comment, tweet and check the weather the old fashioned way, even this small act can be sacred.

majestic sky

Ten Things To Do On A Saturday ~ A List

There is a passion I feel for the freshness of a Monday. There is a cleanliness and 68788-Dear-Saturday-I-Love-Youindulgence I respect about a good Sunday. I’ve never admitted it, but I am anxious about Thursdays, a traditionally more challenging day than any Hump-Day ever dreamed in my opinion.

But I have never emoted, at least to you, about the power of a sweet, sweet Saturday. Until now:

1. Perhaps one of my favorite childhood memories is of Saturday chores followed by the satisfaction of a chore well done. Vacuum tracks on the carpet. Dust free dressers. Saturday begs for a few chores.
2. Yes, it applies to Sunday as well, but brunch with friends on Saturday, post-chores, of course, is SO yummy. Especially in the fall. But winter is nice too.
3. Dinner and a movie. It’s traditional. It’s fulfilling and Saturday provides plenty of time. No rushing after work, just sauntering after chores.
4. An unfortunate truth is we rarely indulge in the offerings of our area until someone comes to town and we host some local site seeing. Take the flexibility of a Saturday and go see what there is to see. You know, like the bear went over the mountain…
5. Over the last few years I’ve had a new sort of agenda heretofore unknown by me. Because of that I haven’t felt at liberty to curl up on the couch and read an indulgent book ~ The transporting kind where you talk with an accent for a few days afterward, or formal English. Don’t call me when I’ve been reading Jane Austin or Charles Dickens. It’s just awkward. I believe Saturday was specifically created for this exact activity.
6. Saturday is the day to take a few liberties with your diet. You know, a cookie after dinner or a large bowl of Tillamook Grandma’s Cake Batter ice cream. Do it. Diets are for Mondays…
7. Spend! The day after payday. Shopping and lunch. Buy stuff. At the mall or from your couch, while you’re on break from you novel.
8. The first official day of the weekend is a day for dress up in the evening. Admit it, you’ve always wanted to dress up like Grace Kelly in pearls and be the main character in Frank Sinatra’s The Lady Is A Tramp. Ermine and pearls!
9. Have a dinner party. You know it’s on your list of things to do. Make something fancy and invite your favorite people over. Saturday is perfect for a dinner party and Sunday provides a whole day to do the cleanup slow.
10. My anthem is to put your metaphorical oxygen mask on first. Saturday is a day to do the self care you likely put off the rest of the week. I beg of you…

Like, share, comment, tweet and seize the weekend!

The Tragic Tale Of Birthday Clowns

I am in the mind of birthdays for some reason unknown to me. Perhaps it is that I have a current love affair with Grandma’s Cake Batter Tillamook ice cream. It tastes like birthdays. It even has sugar sprinkles in it. Get some.

Birthdays are on my mind and in particular, grown up birthdays, which, as we all know, are completely different than childhood birthdays. More angst. Less magic. Birthdays lite.

It’s a peculiar thing to grow up only to realize magic must be made and the older you are, it becomes more and more incumbent upon you to make that magic. While it feels entirely unfair, it is simply a law of the universe and therefore must be accepted and obeyed.

I remember vividly the year I finally decided once and for all that I was good, my birthdays would be fine, no big deal. I didn’t need to rely on any outside forces to feel indulged. There was the year after that when I had to relearn that same lesson. And the year after that and so on and so on.

Perhaps it was the Jail Year when I learned it and it became a part of my DNA. I make the magic. I take care of myself. And any effort from anyone else is gravy and gratefully received.

The ice cream tastes like this. Only it's ice cream. Buy some. Today.
The ice cream tastes like this. Only it’s ice cream. Buy some. Today.

If we were truly trying to teach important life skills to our youth there would be a Magic Making class in middle school, or at the very latest, high school to help our human hopefuls navigate the rough territory of growing up and feeling the magic on birthdays and special occasions.

We could have classes like, “Santa Isn’t Dead, The Real Story” as well as, “Birthday Clowns, You Wouldn’t Have Liked Them Anyway” and my personal favorite, “Bounce Houses, You’re Never Too Old To Jump.”

Maybe my 92 year old granny wouldn’t enjoy the bounce house, but a class on making magic and becoming Santa would be a benefit to anyone.

We are the magic. Feeling blessed and loved and cared for on any given day starts not with the person next to you, but the one on the inside. And ultimately, we give the best presents, make the best magic and feel the most loved once we’ve taken care of things for ourselves.

There’s no specific reason birthdays are on my mind today. Maybe it’s that I’m in the mood for one. Perhaps I’ll buy myself a present and order a cupcake. Rest assured, I will not be ordering any clowns, that’s for damn sure.

Like, share, comment, tweet and remember to put your oxygen mask on first, then you can save the rest of the cabin.

Three Things You Should Be Doing Every Day

I have never had a day that turned out exactly as I’d planned. There have been days that grandly exceeded my expectations and days that took weird turns of epic movie worth. But never a day that was down to the point what I had planned.

Surely you’ve had the same experience. And we are each better for it. Every day arrives a complete mystery and with possibility positively brimming.

We cannot order The Universe about like some sort of subservient lackey. That’s true enough. But we can add ingredients into the cosmic soup of our lives that will at least add that dash of red that makes life yummy.

Every day should include something you look forward to. There’s no way around obligations to feed and house yourself and your loved ones, but no day need go by without something that makes the heart sing. It needn’t be a grand gesture, just a simple kindness.

(Ingredient Options: Your favorite drink, the 15 minute break you were afraid to take, the phone call to a friend that makes you smile…)

Personal makeovers rarely  (dare I say never) come about in one day, but link those days together like a string of pearls and you have the slow burn of self actualization. In order to do that, do something every single day in the name of personal wellness.

(Ingredient Options: Take a 5 minute walk, download the 7-minute workout and take it for a test drive, buy yourself a bottle for water and hydrate like you’re a desert dweller…)

jump the sharkLaughter is the best medicine. Sure it’s cliché but it’s also true on a cellular level. Lighten up and feel how good it is to be you. It’s not as easy as it was when we were kids, but schedule time to laugh, make entertainment choices that give you the giggles. And for the love of all that is holy, stop taking yourself so seriously. You’re human. There’s no shame in it.

(Ingredient Options: Youtube videos, Bill Murray and watching babies. They’re frickin’ hilarious)

Life is made up of so many ingredients that it takes God to order the whole business about. We have nothing at our disposal but a good attitude and the latitude to throw in a few ingredients of our own into the mix.

The ingredients you choose will make all the difference in your day.

Like, share, comment, tweet and jump the shark. Just for grins and in the name of The Fonz.

Fifty Shades Of Gray ~ The Truth Of It

Perhaps it is a rare gift to be someone who sees the world differently, creatively, without hard edges. I remember the moment I first knew I was in love with Mr Dreamboat. It was when I saw him view the world as not so very absolute, but as something deliciously accommodating. A friendly sort of universe.

He’s earned his monicker. That’s for sure.

The world and life, it turns out, is not the set of concrete laws I once thought it was. A cheese grater can be used to grate cheese, sure, but I’ve seen one used as a foot buffer for a pedicure as well. Hopefully not the same grater though. That’s just gross.

Fifty shades of gray is more accurately used to describe the ins and outs of life and the way we choose to see and use it. It is not a black and white world out there, I’d even go so faras to guess there are many more than a mere fifty shades of gray.

When we stop  choosing to see all the can’ts, the shoudn’ts, and the nevers,  life becomes truly satisfying and even, on the very good days, magical.

Einstein, a pretty smart guy I am told, said, “The most important decision we make is

I believe...
I believe…

whether we believe in a friendly or hostile universe.”

Perhaps that’s where the real rebels live, in the land of possibilities, abilities and capabilities. If I choose to believe in a friendly universe, then certainly I believe things are conspiring for my good, new paths open for me and everything is unfolding exactly as it should.

Things are not as they seem, the surface world hides something much more beautiful than that which can be seen with the human eye or conceived of the conscious mind. But it’s there. You know?

Einstein didn’t tell us to figure it out. He didn’t throw out some mathematical equation proving it, he simply told us to make the decision to believe. Certainly the decision to believe in a friendly universe is imperative as is the choice to surround ourselves with people who make that same choice.

Choose wisely.

Like, share, comment, tweet and believe. That simple.

Red Flags In Your Relationship ~ A List Of Ten

The Internet is an endless supply of information as well as an opportunity to diagnose yourself with some of the most obscure diseases, heretofore known only to researchers. We are blessed.

And yet, even the greatest resources can disappoint.

It was only yesterday I followed a link to “Red Flags In Your Relationship With Yourself” to find such “wisdom” as, “you pour your breakfast cereal before you realize you’re out of milk.” This is not a red flag my friends, it’s a shopping issue.

You can imagine my disappointment.

At least it got me thinking about actual red flags and I have to admit I’ve seen a few in my day. Here are ten you want to be aware of. Rest assured there’s no mention of your breakfast choices.

1. Red flag number one is when you don’t know your own body. You don’t know what you’re feeling until you’re in the hospital suffering from exhaustion like a teen movie star with a great publicist. Only you’re actually exhausted and the paparazzi don’t care. Pay attention to you, before it’s an emergency.
2. You’re a giver. I understand that. But if you’re spending so much time on everyone else that you begin to wish them gone in permanent ways, like, “I know he’s only 10, but it seems reasonable for him to get his own place soon…” This is a bad sign. You need to spend some time on/with yourself.
3. If the days are dark and there seems to be an endless list you cannot get free of, it’s time to throw it away. The list, that is. The world will not stop turning if you take a break. It will actually benefit from a refreshed you. I promise. I’ll keep an eye on things while you’re away.
simply be4. It is my experience that when the people I love are annoying me the most, there’s something going on with me, not the other way around. Tapping in to your emotions, not your blame mode, can set you, and them, free.
5. All those things that bother you and you tuck them away for another day? It’s time to clean out the closet. Constantly putting off the hard stuff is a quick ticket to unnamed dis-ease and anxiety. It’s scary, I know, but you’ll thank me in the end.
6. A giant red flag, shout-out goes to telling yourself that even though you’re not happy, god wants you to “stick with it”, “save someone” and generally suffer in your life. This is not true and technically means you’re Jesus, which you are not. Lay the flag down, my friend.
7. Putting off medical appointments and check ups. This is a basic form of self-care and if you’re avoiding it, it’s a basic red flag flapping in the wind of your life. No bueno.
8. If you’re not laughing daily, you’re not having a good time. If you’re not having a good time, it means you’re not really trying to impress yourself very hard. This is a bad sign. You cannot divorce yourself, and as such, it means you better make this relationship work. Which means you should totally try to impress yourself. Which means more laughter.
9. When is the last time you did something genuinely kind for yourself? If you can’t remember when, then look up. See that red flag? Take it down.
10. If this post annoyed you, not because of my writing style but because it made you feel uncomfortable because you have ten red flags flying on each point, it means you may need to buy yourself some flowers and think of a really creative way to apologize to the most important person in your life. It’s worth it, for sure.

It’s not always easy to have a good relationship with yourself. I admit this. But it is exactly as important as it seems. You are with you your whole life and in order to build other relationships, the first one should be in tip-top condition.

I am Michelle At Play because I have to make a choice every day to be good to me. I am Michelle At Play and I am your life coach.

If you’re in need of self-dating advice, if you’re ready to take the steps to building the life of your dreams, message me. We can talk. We can do this together.

Like, share, definitely comment,  tweet all about it and woo you.

God In The Dark ~ Michelle Church

I have spent my life, and not in vain I might add, in search of the rainbow brought about by the storm, the brilliant flowers only possible for the days and days of rain. I have spent my life in this manner and I am better off for it.

Even in the midst of Prisony-land I could see the silver lining. Well, perhaps more accurately, it could be said that I laser-focused on that silver lining because I did not, on any level, want to look at the enormous, black cloud that was my life.

It was dark and cold and scary and this, my friends, was depressing. I needed less of that and more of the silver lining.

Every day I would throw myself out of be and in my best 1980’s, Brian Tracy voice, I would say with all the sincerity and intensity of a tortured soul, “I feel TERIFFIC!”

Repeated three times.storm

It was a good game plan. I made it through those days and was on anti-depressants for only a year afterward. I’m going to have to call that a win.

It is only possible now, years after, that I can look back on those days and understand that some of the most beautiful sights are to be seen in the dark hazes. Yes, the silver lining is a joy to behold, but the solemn loveliness of a storm cloud, that’s really something.

There are so many sayings and teachings about where one is to find God; God is in the details, in the gap, everywhere and nowhere at all.

I believe God is in all those things and, perhaps especially, God is in the darkness.

There have been moments in my life so painful that to think of them, even so many years away, they take my breath away for the pain of it all. And even so, even though the wounds might sometimes seem so fresh as to have been discovered just yesterday, if I take a moment to really see with my knowing instead of needing, perhaps this is where I see God the most clearly.

It’s not a bad way to spend a life, to search for the beauty instead of the storms. But there is so much that is missed when we choose not to see the sum of the parts of God.

Certainly I will continue to celebrate the rainbows, but in my own way, I will revel in the storms.

Like, share, comment, tweet and know that I wish for you just the right balance of sun and storms to feel Love.