Myth, A Poem for National Poetry Writing Month

Because it is National Poetry Writing Month I thought I would craft a poem for the first time in over 30 years.  That is my disclaimer in case you were expecting something spectacular.

Myth

Ugly is beautiful

Intelligence is common

Obesity is comfortable

Cowardice is safe

Honesty is a virtue

Dancing woman

Goals trounce resolutions

The statistics kings, or as I refer to them- “they”, say that we break 65% of new year’s resolutions.  New Year’s resolutions are designed to be broken, which is why I did not make any.  I can experience failure any time I want, sometimes several times within a day, so I’ll be damned if I am going to court it.  I was not always this way.  I spent much of my 20’s and all of my 30’s on one self-help road or another striving to be better.  Better than what?  Better than me.  It took me 43 years to accept my successes, my mistakes, and the whole package that makes up who I am, taking into account how much I have learned and grown.  With my thirst for learning and new experiences why would I not continue to grow ?  I now revel in some of my imperfections, such as a raunchy sense of humor and blunt honesty.  The world does not have a surplus of those two attributes, so I feel I add something worthwhile to the mix, just as you and your imperfections do.

Year-long promises that usually involve abstaining from a desire/addiction or performing acts that we think are good for us but do not really want to do are set-ups for failure.  One slip and I get to feel like I broke a promise to myself.  No thank you.  I prefer denying myself unhealthy habits and working toward my dreams in bite-sized increments so I can savor each daily, weekly, or even hourly victory.  I was the kid that easily made a candy bar last all day because it made for a better day.  I am not going to wait all year to pat myself on the back for going to the gym 3 times this week.  I see the calorie counter on the treadmill and I earned a candy bar or even a dish of ice cream.  This strategy makes it much more likely that I will return to the gym next week.  If I bury myself in a novel in front of the fireplace instead of going to the gym, I do not let myself off the hook for the rest of the year because I failed.  My discipline frequently lags, but not living up to a goal breeds vigilance the next day.

Another reason resolutions fail is because willpower cannot fix every problem.  Trying harder often equates to increasing frustration as I try to fix things out of my control or slap a band-aid on a problem that needs a tourniquet.  If I concentrate on the short-term goals on the branches of my big dream tree, I can appreciate how all things work together.  If I go to the gym I have more energy and sleep better, improving my cognition so that I work smarter.  Also, my jiggly parts are more perky, gaining me extra spousal squeezes and increased confidence, which ultimately leads to a better love life.  When I eat greens and lean protein I feel lighter and not a bit guilty when I indulge my love of chocolate.  I proved this to myself once again over the holidays because there weren’t any Christmas salads, but there were plenty of desserts.  When I write daily I am a happier person (so my husband says), which makes me more successful in my relationships.  When I read literature, non-fiction, or contemporary fiction, it makes me a better writer.  When I perform detailed research on career options I often discover aspects I was previously oblivious to and it motivates me to spend more time writing and constructing a virtual assistant business.  If I volunteer to work with disabled veterans, I feel better about not contributing to my community with a paying job and exposure to veteran perspectives and characters enhance my writing.  If I meditate and journal today the unemployment blues abate somewhat, which makes it easier for me to take action rather than spending the day on the couch unshowered thinking of how unfair this situation is while the TV drones in the background.  It all works together.  I am not the only one thinking this way, as evidenced by an app at iTunes called Resolutions 2012 which deconstructs resolutions into bite-sized, realistic goals that encourage a person to think about what it will take to meet a wide-sweeping resolution like losing 20 pounds or quitting smoking.  I think the best resolution all of us can strive for is doing something nice for someone else every day.  If that took off I would not need to challenge myself with meditation as often, but wishing for something hardly ever makes it so.

The American lives even more for his goals, for the future, than the European. Life for him is always becoming, never being. 
-Albert Einstein

A local giant says goodbye

Frederick Meijer, the founder of “one-stop-shopping” died on Friday at age 91 after suffering a stroke earlier in the day.  Fred, as he was known in the community, was a free-thinker with common sense values who with the help of his friend Earl Holton built a small empire of Meijer retail stores.  In 1934 Fred’s father Hendrick opened a grocery store in Greenville Michigan at which Fred worked 40 hours a week while attending high school and where he met his wife Lena, who was a clerk.  In 1962 Hendrick and Fred opened the first Meijer Thrifty Acres.  Every child that grew up in Michigan after the mid-sixties remembers riding the mechanical horse at the front of every store for a penny.  I just noticed the other day that there is still a horse at the front of my local Meijer and amazingly it still costs a penny to ride.

My admiration for Fred was born when I went to work at a newly opened Meijer store in the late 90’s.  I was hired as an “everything gal” for the store and met Fred several times during those few years.  His favorite ice cream was blue moon and he would hand out pennies to children so they could ride the horse when he came in for a scoop.  He always had a pocket full of pennies.  Occasionally I was asked to deliver gallons of milk and other sundries to Fred’s friends’ homes when they were ill.  I thought it was nice that they shared this personal information with an errand girl, but it was not surprising.  I was such a believer in Fred Meijer and Earl Holton that after a year I became a Hiring and Training Manager.  Earl was President of Meijer and had started at Meijer as a bag boy.  Fred’s Dad Hendrick was not nearly as fond of Earl as Fred was because it bothered him that Earl always had a smoke when he retrieved the grocery carts from the parking lot.  Up until a few years ago every Meijer store had a smoking break room so that customers never saw employees smoking out in the lot.  Earl’s approach to customer service was inspirational.  In the early years a customer asked him for a fry pan that was locked in a storeroom.  The only set of keys were with the store manager who had left for the day, so Earl removed the door from its hinges to get that fry pan for the waiting customer.  Fred empowered his employees and trusted their judgment because he believed that he could not possibly know everything.  Thanks to his wife Lena, all of the store’s bathroom doors swing out so that you don’t have to touch them with clean hands.  I’m surprised that sensible idea hasn’t caught on.  Sam Walton said he got the idea to include groceries in Wal-Mart from Meijer, and several other chains followed suit.

Fred and Lena Meijer kept the company family owned, choosing not to take it public several times over the past 30 years.  Their philanthropy is well-known throughout our community with the Meijer Heart Center and 125-acre Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park standing as living testaments to their generosity.  I am positive that there are many individuals who remember small acts of kindness from Fred.  I will always remember him as the billionaire that did not act like one, who spoke to me as if I was his equal.  It may be cliché, but it is fitting to say that they just don’t make them like Fred anymore.

I am the woman by Kathy Elliot

A fellow blogger who writes an exquisite blog about Rome sent me the following poem.  Reading it reminded me of how powerful I am, how immeasurably magnificent all women are.  I hope it does the same for you.

I am the woman –  By Kathy Elliot

I am the woman who is unstoppable
I am the woman
Whose dreams are immeasurable
I am the woman
Of a different breed, unbelievable
I am the woman
Of all times, incredible
I am a woman
With passion and purpose, unspeakable
I am the woman
Who decides where I should fall
In this universe, unpredictable
I am the woman
Who refuse to lessen my dreams
To meet man’s expectation, inconceivable
I am a woman
Of greatness and this greatness
Should never be compromise, remarkable
I am that GREAT WOMAN.

Lost in Town is not a typical travel blog, but rather an online holiday due to the writer’s use of language and beautiful photos.  I encourage you to visit Rome at: http://lostintown.wordpress.com/

ArtPrize 2011 Revisited

With over 1,500 pieces, ArtPrize 2011 lured me in for another look.  This time I took my husband who is quite evolved for a Michigan outdoorsman, although not appreciative of the more abstract art forms, the pieces that you cannot exactly say what it is because it is something different to each viewer.  So I plied him with a tasty lunch and a microbrew before we looked and then topped off our outing with one for the road at an Irish pub in Downtown Grand Rapids.  Included in this post are a few more photos of some of the pieces we admired.

Now that the top ten have been chosen by voters throughout the community the art critics are complaining about some of the “amateurish” pieces and the entire voting process.  How could common folk who have not been formally trained possibly know which are the best pieces?  ArtPrize  is advertised as a social experiment designed to promote connections between artists and the community (common folk) and inspire creative conversations.  What I observed was families with children and classes of schoolchildren viewing the art downtown.  Many of the people dressed in jeans and t-shirts and the price to get in to view the art was zilch.  ArtPrize made art accessible, which is what most deserves an award.  Kudos to Rick DeVos, the founder of ArtPrize, for his response to the critics’ assertion that ArtPrize lacks credibility in the art community, “I just want to see crazy crap all over Grand Rapids, and I think we’ve achieved that,” DeVos said. “The goal is not to find better art through voting. It’s not better art through democracy.  The prize and the voting are really just mechanisms. It comes back to building a creative culture in West Michigan.”

My Interpretation of ArtPrize 2011

ArtPrize is an annual arts festival and social experiment showcasing 1,582 artists in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The monetary awards are the largest in the world and the competition is decided solely on the general public’s electronic vote.  The goal is for the community to explore new ideas and form relationships with the artists.  I often think that the DeVos family just has too much damn money, yet am grateful for their philanthropy in my home, which is considered one of the most depressed states in the country.

I developed a taste for art in my 20’s.  In my 30’s I began to step out of my impressionist comfort zone.  In my 40’s I seek to find the vision of the artist, to understand the intended meaning of the work and incorporate it with my interpretation of a piece or performance.  With this approach I have discovered the emotional facet of art, finding joy and haunting sadness in unexpected pieces that I was previously unready for.  Including a friend in artistic excursions, I am gifted with a contrasting view that leaves me appreciative of what I gain from being open to other’s visions.  Besides, I always laugh in the company of dear friends and there is no greater joy than that.