The Sweetest Week: Revving Up for 2016


Wall inside the SPACES gallery in Cleveland, 2007, artist unknown. Photo copyright Beth Rankin, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

To borrow a sporting term, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a “bye week.” As the rotation goes, it’s a week to watch the big game on TV, rather than suiting up.

For all intents and purposes, 2015 is a wrap. With a few exceptions, folks find themselves without significant work or goals of real substance. Or they are too distracted and D-O-N-E with 2015 to take on anything new or to put out too much energy.

Yet the bright and shiny 2016 baby new year has not yet been delivered by the stork.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

So, what’s a person to do during this limbo week?


I’m not going to get on a pulpit and tell you that you must do this and certainly not how to do this. I’m not going to tell you that I like to review the year in my imagination like I’m scanning chapters of a book that I’ve already read, oohing and aahing at all that’s happened. And I’m certainly not going to suggest that you consider how 2015 propelled your life forward as if you were looking back over the arc of your life.

But maybe you do all that. Or not.

Then after you do that or not, maybe you picture the year ahead and where you want to be at the end of 2016. What value you want to deliver to the world and how you want to feed your own soul. How you’d finish a sentence that starts with, “Hot damn, 2016 was the year that I/we ______________________.”

In the words of a dear friend who saw me struggling through the early months as a new mom to a colicky baby, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Looking back and gleaning some wisdom to apply to a year ahead seems like the least we can do. After all, life goes by in a flash of an eye.



What Good Can Come Of This?


Years ago when I was going through a really hard time, one of my dearest friends taught me a question that got me through sleepless nights and has since served me well.

“What good can come of this?”

It’s a hard question to ask yourself when things seem quite impossibly “bad.”

But it’s worth it.

Last week after the San Bernadino shooting…

Then the SoCal gas leak…

And this morning after reading yet another article that compares Trump to Hitler

I talked myself out of moving to another country and asked the question.

“What good can come of this?”

Funny enough, an answer came.

It’s not original, but it’s true.

As a sensitive soul, a dreamer, an empath, a writer, a mother, I have a habit of putting my head in the sand. Of letting my political cynicism take over. I check out. I lay low. I stop knowing what’s happening. On purpose. Because, really, it’s just too much.

Yesterday I saw this image floating around Facebook.


I’m a Taurus. And, yes, 25 hours seems about right. It made me laugh out loud. My mom says that my default state as a baby was sleeping. I’d wake to eat and “do my business.” Then back to sleep!

But I wonder now about that need, desire, longing for sleep. Is it a way to escape being alive and out here in the world?

Um, yeah.

So, what good can come of this?

I don’t have any political aspirations. But I do know that I am a leader and an influencer.

All of this chaos is stirring up in me a desire to be a force of good. Not necessarily to go head to head with the “bad.” But to stand up loud and proud and take the lead on issues a little more salient than I have in the past. To slough off any doubts I’ve had in the past about whether my voice matters.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that there’s a certain amount of distance and buffer that’s healthy. But then it gets to a point when it’s just a way of hiding.

As long as we’re alive, we might as well be full out living. Right?

Guess it’s time for this Rumpelstiltskin to git on up.

(Periodic naps are still permissible.)


Houses Aren’t Showplaces. They Are Workshops.

Fish by Jacob Zinman-Jeanes

“Fish” by Jacob Zinman-Jeanes

I’m a big fan of a clean house. Especially when it’s my own. But sometimes having a clean house is out of reach. Like when…I still haven’t recovered from the 7-year-old birthday party at the house last weekend…or our living room is a staging area for the garage sale on Saturday…or, frankly, we just can’t extract any extra energy to clean the house ourselves or hire someone to clean for us.

And during those times, a panic sets in. My chest tightens. My breathing shallows. Until I take these two magic steps.

#1 – Turn Home into Workshop – Changing my perspective on “Home” works wonders. Instead of a showplace that SHOULD be neat and orderly like the staged photos in Home Magazine, I magically turn my living space into a “Workshop” IN MY MIND. Oh, a workshop! Yes, workshops can be messy. They can be a little disorderly. Because work is happening there. It’s creativity in motion. It’s dynamic! I can find a new boundary of acceptable disorder when I’m living in a workshop. No, not complete chaos. Not dirtiness that invites critters into my home. But not sanitized and wrapped up in a bow, either.

#2 – Make Plans for a Friend to Visit – Nothing helps me pull the house together more quickly than hosting company. And when the house is pulled together that quickly, my mind-body-spirit are reminded that regardless of how messy the house appears on any given day, it’s only 3 hours away from near showplace neatness.

There’s an invisible third magic step: Gratitude. Feeling grateful that I have a home to fill, that I have an address for USPS to deliver mail that will inevitably pile up, and that I have beautiful children who fill the house with their stuff, too. Whether it’s a showplace or a workshop or whatever, focusing on gratitude instantly quells the anxiety over dust bunnies and stacks of paper.

Seriously Awesome Disney Character Robot Prosthetics For Kids

open bionics

I’m generally human-meets-robot adverse.  But this is an awesome, life-changer for kids.

Open Bionics, a UK-based company whose mission is to provide affordable prosthetics, teamed up with Disney to create character-themed prosthetics for kids.

I’m struck by the heartful commentary from Open Bionics CEO Joel Gibbard in an interview with The Independent“The power of these prosthetics is that the public perception is completely different. All of a sudden they’re not being asked how they lost their hand, they’re being asked where they got their cool robot hand… What might have been perceived as their greatest weakness is seen as their greatest strength.”

According to the article, Disney footed the bill to cover some start-up costs through its Accelerator program, opened its development lab – and talent – to Open Bionics – and waived the royalty fees. All of this adds up to lower costs and a more accessible price tag for the prosthetics.

I worked at The Walt Disney Company for four years (2009-2013). It didn’t take long – yeah, on my first day – to see just how much reach and influence that the company has not just in boardrooms but in living rooms across the globe. I never really thought about it before.

Disney really does have the power to make big changes. It did when it was just Disney. But now Disney isn’t just Disney. It’s Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, ABC, ESPN, on and on.

By far, this is the most exciting Disney partnership that I’ve seen. More of this!

Check out the story coverage in Viral Nova for some pretty awesome photos.

Kids Are Philosophers, Too!

baby“I just don’t understand why the world was created. I mean why are we here?”

Says everyone including my seven-year-old son while he was falling asleep last night.

Wow! What a reminder to never underestimate the depth of a child’s musings.

Especially the souls who clearly have fully developed adult sensibilities and just happen to be wearing size 1 sneakers.

Before You Slather On The Sunscreen…

ca. 1910, USA --- Two women in swimwear enjoy a tandem bike ride down the beach with parasols in hand. --- Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

ca. 1910, USA — Two women in swimwear enjoy a tandem bike ride down the beach with parasols in hand. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

OK, sometime long ago we decided that sunscreen was THE way to guard against the damage of sun overexposure. Looks like it’s time to rethink that decision.

And we are! In LA, I routinely see people using umbrellas and parasols.

But that’s not the only alternative. Check out this link:

Hooked on sunscreen? I was, too. But every time I turn around there’s a different reason not to use sunscreen. It’s nutty.

Here’s a snapshot from my consumer POV:

  1. Sunscreen may prevent cancer in one way, but may contribute to cancer in another way.
  2. It blocks the skin from fully absorbing the vital nutrient Vitamin D. (Jury is still out on whether it blocks it at any significant level.)
  3. And now we know that oxybenzone (key ingredient in major sunscreen brands) is playing a big part in the destruction of coral reefs.
  4. More natural sunscreen brands are iffy. Some users report sunburns when using more natural brands. Plus, I can’t take the sticky, white residue.

But getting skin cancer is still bad, right? Yup! Seems like we need other sun protection besides sunscreen.

The News Basically Sucks, But People Are Still Basically Good

Ya know, despite my best efforts, some of the worst news headlines still sink in. And sometimes I click on those story links and my guts twist in a knot. The shootings. The abuse. The neglect. The absurd.

This morning it was: “Man Strangles Woman On Plane For Putting Back Her Seat”

And then there was another that I can’t even publish here.

Call me a Pollyanna, but I look around and see people doing good things. I see people who care for the world and each other. I see more good than I ever have seen in my 45 years. I challenge you to do the same. Especially on those days where some of the worst news sneaks in.

Yes, of course, I see the dark stuff in my world, too. But Fear, Hate and Anger and the actions that stem from those places cannot be eradicated with more of the same. The more you rail against it, the more Fear, Hate and Anger grows.