Thursday, January 26, 2017

Politics, Six Words, & Advice

Photo: Win McNamee

"A White House built on fabrication"... six words (my words) used to describe the political situation in our country today.

A country, that in the span of just four days, bid farewell to one president, witnessed the swearing in of another, while millions of women in pink hats from the United States and around the world marched in opposition to our newly formed government...

A government that apparently lies and calls their falsehoods, "alternative facts."

The fact is... this new President and his staff of advisors are beyond belief.

Gone are the principles of Superman: "Truth, Justice and the American Way."

And like so many Americans, I am way unhinged... so much so that I contacted: CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and several fact-checking organizations with this question and my own reply.

Question:
"What are the people of this country to do with a government that lies?"

Answer:
"Rely on the Press!"

Then I offered these six words of advice, encouragement, and a cry for help.

"HOLD TIGHT! WE DESPERATELY NEED YOU!!!"

Quote by Mahatma Gandhi / Source: Quotefancy.com

The power of words and the 'constraint of 'six' often speaks volumes.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged in a bar to write a story in just six words. On a napkin, he wrote, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

I first became intrigued with the power of 'Six' in 2008 when I joined Smith Magazine: Home of the Six-Word Memoir. To best explain things, I'll share this copy of a letter I sent to President Obama in December 2016 expressing my gratitude for his eight years of service.

Photo: Jewel Samad

Dear Barack,

Just prior to your inauguration in 2009, Larry Smith of Smith Magazine's "Six-Word Memoirs" ran a contest asking the nation to provide six words of advice to you, our soon to be 44th President of the United States.

I never imagined that my six words would be among the winning entries or that my six words: "These are testing times, study hard" would ring so true.

Never in our history has any President had to face such unjust adversity from party opposition; yet throughout, you managed to persevere, endure, and lead this nation with great integrity. You supported this country when it was down and almost out, you provided health care, jobs, and increased wages. You boosted the economy and fostered equality for women, LGBT partners, and people of all nationalities. And above all, you kept us safe.

Historically, I've admired leaders who exhibited intelligence and compassion... people like John F. Kennedy, known for his passionate speeches, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. known for his incredible dream. I believe history will prove that you not only possess these same traits and more, but that you will be known for your impeccable character.

These are testing times Mr. President, and you've scored an "A+ Outstanding!"

I thank you! Millions of others all over the world... thank you too!

And for my last set of "SIX"...

"Be Proud! We're proud of you!"

Sincerely,
Dyan

 
Source: TED.com

Advice isn't something I give often. Born into a family of non-communicators, advice wasn't something imparted, but rather picked up through osmosis. But even a few words mentioned often enough over an extended period of time will eventually stick.

Here are a few that stuck with me...

"Breathe Deeply"... My grandma Fanny led by example. So often I'd watch her take a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale forcibly. She was a bit of a health nut in her day despite cooking with lard. Aside from conscious breathing, she attended a few wellness spas and exercised daily in her living room with Jack LaLanne (fitness guru) on television.

"Money is Round"... The idea that if you spend it, it will come back to you... another saying by grandma Fanny who rarely spent money on herself but gave to many others and whose heart was as good as gold.

"This Too Shall Pass"... Consoling words from my grandpa Mickey (Fanny's husband) who lived through the depression and experienced difficult times that were never mentioned.

"Don't Get Pregnant"... Mouthed by my mother, Edna, though I don't think she meant it as in never ever. "Sorry mom"... both my brother and his wife and my husband and I chose not to have children.

"Use a Tissue Just Once"... What an odd thing for my dad, Jerry, to say. So odd, that I still hear his words every time I blow my nose.

And for a poignant bit of advice... from our dear friend Mrs. Weinstock, who passed away two months before her 98th birthday...

"Write Everything Down. One Day You Will Forget."

Well, I've written down everything. And if there's one thing I would like to forget... it's the entire 2016 Presidential Election!

As my cousin Carl would say... "Good Luck With That."

And as I would say in


"Good Luck To All Of Us!" 

If interested...

For an article written in 2009 by our local paper regarding my Six-Word win go here.

To visit Smith Magazine go here and to learn about their latest book, The Best Advice in Six Words, which includes a new set of my six go here.

And for a little rant, if you haven't already seen and heard enough, read Dick Polman's article from Newsworks here.

After reading Polman's piece, 
you might want to take grandma Fanny's advice and take a... 

"Deep Breath"

XOX... Dyan


Friday, December 23, 2016

Bridges, Idioms, & Anxiety



Bridges... have you ever burned one? Figuratively?

I recall three... all burned over thankless jobs when in the heat of the moment I had had enough and justifiably walked out and vowed never to return.

There was the high school summer job working the 3 to 11 PM shift printing banners for a small company with a "No Sitting" "No Talking" "No Breathing" policy. I quit after being reamed out by the owner for wearing a small Band-Aid on my finger while working. Immediately afterwards the foreman pleaded with me to stay, "Sit, drink coffee, read magazines the rest of the night, but don't go," as I walked out the door.

Then there was the job straight out of college for another printing firm that offered a decent wage and position, which were slow to materialize. After a few months, I quit. Management said they thought I was overqualified and were waiting to see if I'd take a better offer elsewhere, or enroll in graduate school before they made good on their promises. I promised never to return.

And then the dream job which turned into a nightmare after discovering that the Philadelphia elementary school that hired me to teach Art had zero supplies and zero chances of ever getting any. So instead of teaching "Conceptual" Art or forever paying for my own materials, after a week, I resigned.

"Water Under The Bridge" as they say, an idiom meaning something that happened and can't be changed.


There are quite a few idioms involving bridges:

Besides... "Burning One's Bridges," making decisions that can't be changed, or cutting off the path from where you came.

There's... "A Bridge Too Far," a plan whose ambition overreaches its capacity leading to difficulty or failure.

"Bridge The Gap," to make a connection where there is a great difference or to create something that will only serve temporarily.

And...

"Cross That Bridge When You Come To It," to avoid needless worry about a difficult situation  until it happens. Something I've been retelling myself ever since the start of the 2016 Presidential Election and honestly it's not working... the idiom, the election, and my anxiety, an anxiety never felt to this degree in my entire adult life over a President-elect.

Anxiety, bridges, and how people do and don't cope are the subjects of an interesting and at times amusing piece printed in "Philadelphia Stories," a quarterly publication, and written by R.G. Evans called "Crossing Bridges".

It begins...

"I don't remember when the panic attacks began, but I do remember where.

The first one hit as I ascended the deck of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the twin span across the Delaware River connecting Delaware to southern New Jersey, a bridge I'd driven across hundreds of times over the past twenty years. My mouth began to fill with saliva and my throat felt swollen, on the verge of closing altogether. My tongue seemed to swell and I felt my heart pound as both my hands sprang off the wheel and clasped tightly over my mouth. Somehow, I managed to keep control of the car till it reached the summit of the bridge and immediately, I felt normal again, not dying at all, just casually driving down the western side of a bridge that moments before had tried to kill me."

... continue reading the complete story here.


And if "Burning Bridges" and "Crossing Bridges When You Come To Them" fail to lessen your anxiety, try Yoko Ono's method... a primal scream here.


For now...

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS!

... crossing all other bridges only when you have to!


XOX... Dyan


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rhymes & Rodents

Warning!

These stories are factual. The pictures have been changed to protect the innocent... me, and those like me, who terrify easily.

Source: planetpenny.co.uk

Hickory Dickory Dock.
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down.
Dragging his trap behind him.

Truth is... there are no clocks in our basement.
And for the exact time I can't say for sure.
But a mouse trap was set... 4 of them to be precise, each smeared with peanut butter and strategically placed inside our cellar.

I know this because my husband told me after seeing small droppings (poop presents) where previously there had been none.

But now I'm told there are 3... three traps, three dead mice, and one trap missing, as in gone, vanished, nowhere to be found.

I freaked!... soon after hearing the words house and mouse mouthed together. "Eek!" no, 'Double Eek!' for somewhere in this house there's a mouse, big and powerful enough to pick up a wooden trap... and carry it with him!

Obviously, I don't like mice, and many other creatures I haven't mentioned; but right now the only thing keeping me from jumping out of my skin is that I haven't actually seen anything. Not a single sharp-clawed, twitchy-nosed, naked-tailed, furried-critter has yet to ascend the basement steps and enter my personal space.

Source: feltify.com

And to keep things that way, we drove to Lowes Home Improvement Center where we met an employee offering advice on anti-rodent invasion supplies.

"Mice will chew right through that spray foam you're holding," she said. "You're better off using steel wool to fill in large gaps. Mice won't go near the stuff." This woman knew her "stuff" apparently from first-hand experience.

Her son raised mice for a local pet store. And her neighbor raised chickens, which attracted large colonies of mice. So between her son's few escapees and those from next door, soon HUNDREDS of mice were running amuck in her house!

Source: feltify.com

After closing my dropped jaw, I asked, "How did you cope?"

"I'm not afraid of mice," she said. "I just picked them up by the tail and got rid of them. And I used poison. The poison worked great, but isn't sold anymore because dealers used it to cut their drugs.

Which was way more information than I could assimilate; I clearly stopped listening after hearing... 'hundreds of mice running amuck'.

And here I thought my 'Triple Eek' moment was scary, when years back, in the middle of the night, while living in Jenkintown in our loft space above a candy store, I heard, then saw, my bedside trash can move!

Right there, just inches from my head, was... a GIANT RAT!

"Eek! Eek! Eek!" I screamed, though it may have been just one long "EeeeeeeeeeeK!" that woke my husband.

"It's just a dream," he groggily muttered.

"It's a GIANT RAT" I sputtered.

And like lightening we bolted from our comfy king-sized bed, and ran into my studio, where we both laid, squished and immobile on a daybed, perfectly sized for one person.

Neither of us slept. Even if we had dozed off it wouldn't have lasted because with daylight came audible cries from the far end of Michael's studio.

Bravely, my weary husband, my hero, headed out to investigate.

There he found, stuck inside a five-gallon plastic bucket, not an oversized mutant rat, but a baby-sized OPOSSUM! The first of many!

Source: Elisa Shine

Unlike rodents who scurry and jump when threatened, opossums play dead.

Over the next few days, six opossums, or a passel (a group of opossum) were captured in habitat traps and set free.

As simple as it may sound, capturing these marsupials wasn't easy or convenient.

Often it was between 2 and 3 in the morning when their cries, like blaring alarm clocks would alert us to Quickly Get Up!, Quickly Get Dressed!, and Quickly Drive! to the nearest park where they would be released... ever so... s-l-o-w-l-y. Slowly, because the opossums refused to move; they all played dead!

Michael handled and transported all the creatures; I was just a passenger along for the nerve-wracking ride.

And once her children were gone, Mama Opossum, who had been living beneath the floorboards, chose to exit the building and never return.

Source: Mevv San

Which is my exact wish for the field mice now inhabiting our place in Glenside, that they leave of their own volition and never return! Better still... that their love of the outdoors keeps them from ever venturing indoors!

And that missing trap? Fortunately for us it was found with its catch intact inside a hollow concrete block. Not so fortunate for the mouse, who was once believed to have super-natural ability.

Several more mice have since been caught, but none lately.

Reminiscent of more joyous times when...

'Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse!

Source: crafthubs.com

I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Speedy! now, Stuart! now Mighty! and Mickey!
On, Templeton! on, Jerry! on, Chuck E! and Minnie!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"


~The End~

XOX... Dyan



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Walked & Found: Persona

Found: Plastic with a question.


Some time ago I came across a piece of black plastic lying in the street.

I peered down at the 4 words printed in white letters and thought... is this some 'deep' message from above, and if so, does the universe expect an answer right now?

Just when I thought I had already evolved into somebody... a somebody who's out walking in desperate need of exercise.

So I left my 'find' where I found it and moved on. On towards the next block when curiosity lured me back to the spot where I previously stood.

This time, instead of just peering, I picked up the plastic and flipped it over for clues.


Lucky Chase!... for possessing the payable portion of a Dick's Sporting Goods gift card while I'm left with the discard and a cryptic message asking... "Who Will You Be?"

Fortunately for me, it didn't take long to solve the mystery. Once home and a few swift strokes on a keyboard, here's what I found...

Women now comprise half the shoppers purchasing sporting goods either for their families or for comfortable, stylish activewear for themselves. And because of this new trend, in 2015, Dick's Sporting Goods launched its first ad campaign geared specifically towards women, consisting of a 60-second spot followed by eight 15-second vignettes highlighting the challenges and rewards women face in balancing life and fitness.

According to Dick's chief marketing officer, Lauren Hobart, "Women juggle a lot. There's a lot women need to get done in any given day, so the choice to work out and the choice to fit in fitness is a challenge for people. They have to find time. This campaign celebrates those decisions, and celebrates people for making them."

"Who will you be?" asks the campaign. "Every run. Every workout. Every day. Every choice. Every season starts at Dick's Sporting Goods."

Interesting concept. Though somewhat wasted on me for I'm not big on sports, exercise or television commercials. I am however, intrigued by words and the psychological-sounding query... "Who Will You Be?"

While searching this slogan, I came across a book with similar words titled: Just Who Will You Be? published in 2008, written by Maria Shriver after having been asked to give the commencement speech at her nephew's high school graduation.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction...

"Not too long ago, I was whining to my teenage daughter, "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up!"

She took me by the shoulders, looked me dead in the eye, and said, "I hate to break it to you mom, but this is it for you! You are all grown up! You're cooked!"

I jumped out of my chair. "Not so!" I shot back. "You may think I'm over, but I'm not done yet! I'm still a work in progress, and I'm writing my next act now."

I told her, "You wait and see just who I'll be!"

When my daughter left the room, I wondered, "Is she right? Is this really it? Am I cooked? Am I over? Or do I get another shot at asking what do I want to be when I grow up?"

In having to come up with words of encouragement to give young adults just starting out in the world when she was struggling herself, Ms. Shriver came to realize...

"That asking ourselves not just what we want to be, but who we want to be is important at every stage of our lives, not just when we're starting out in the world. That's because in a way, we're starting out fresh in the world every single day."

"What matters most to me now is what I expect of myself. What matters most to me now is that I know myself... what my heart feels, what my inner voice is telling me.

So just who am I?"

A question like so many other questions I asked myself days after finding that piece of plastic in the street, when once again I was out walking and...

Found: A drawing of a mask stapled to a telephone pole.


And I asked...

Who are you?
And why do you look so surprised?
Who made you and why?
Why on a pole for all to see?
I don't know... you're a mystery to me.

However, I do know a few things about masks and personality.

The word 'personality' comes from the Latin word 'persona' which means 'mask'.

And the persona, according to Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, is the social face the individual presents to the world... "A kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual."

So the study of personality is understood by studying the 'masks' that people wear.

In short... our public vs private selves.

Which may explain the enormous appeal of wearing a decorative mask... the ease and thrill of reinventing ourselves while hiding our true identities. 

Personally, I love Venetian masks, the costumes that go with them, and the unique personas of those wearing them.

Here are a few masks with unique personalities from Carnevale di Venezia...

 
Photo Credit: Yen Baet

Photo Credit: Stefano Rellandini

Photo Credit: Scott Stulberg

Source: etchdwallpapers.com

Source: veniceexplorer.net

Here are a few links you might find interesting:

View Dick's Sporting Goods one-minute add campaign and their 15-second vignettes (buttons located on the left of the screen) here.

Read Maria Shriver's "My Pledge" from her book Just Who Will You Be? here.

A video of people wearing Venetian masks and costumes here.

Learn how Venetian masks are made here.

And for some fun and personally revealing information:

A color personality test here.

From 'You Just Get Me'... Rate Your Own Personality here.

Are You An Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist? here.


Dedicated to my very dear and 'private' friend
who passed on August 18, 2016
affectionately nicknamed, 'Denisee Pie'
of brilliant mind, big heart, and kind soul,
who enjoyed many of life's mixed pleasures:

Health food, the occasional chocolate croissant, ice cream bar, and fruit tart.
Long walks, bike rides, and times as a couch potato.
Classics and 'trashy' novels.
Fine Art and childhood TV reruns.
Expensive shoes.
And paper plates, "Cause life's too short to wash dishes."

Thank you for more than 4 decades of constant optimism, enthusiasm, inspiration, sincerity, undying devotion and support.

The loss is great.
Having had you in my life, greater.

Peace to you dear friend, who shall forever be remembered.

XOX... Dyan


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Walked & Found: Footwear & Photography

Found: a baby shoe.


Oddly, this baby shoe, in its placement on the curb, looks more like a collectable on display rather than something you'd expect to be strewn about from having been dropped, kicked, or playfully tossed. It's not so hard to imagine that somewhere there's an infant, partially barefoot, with a child-minder unaware that something's gone missing.

Everyday things are lost... and sometimes found.

When I found this soft, ordinary, baby shoe in an ordinary suburban neighborhood, while on my daily walk, I knew it wouldn't make an extraordinary photograph, but shot it anyway thinking it might make a unique story.

Once home, I emailed my cousin, Carl, and told him of my day... about our hot and humid weather (nothing new), my walk, and the object I found.

Moments later he replied with just a picture: a boot in the sand.

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

I think we were communicating, sort of, though I'll never know if this was a photo of his boot or someone else's, if it was placed there or accidentally left behind, or even when it was documented, recently or years ago?

I write volumes; Carl sends photographs.
Occasionally with his images, he'll include a few words, if I'm lucky a whole sentence.

Carl is my first cousin... my father's sister's son, and my favorite living relative. We were both born in New York. He was raised in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn and I grew up in East Meadow, Long Island. Now Carl lives on the West Coast, California and I live on the East Coast, Pennsylvania.

Carl is a morning person, up and out by 5 AM.
I rarely leave the house before 1 PM unless I have an appointment, then I'll get up early and complain the whole time.

Carl is a free spirit, rode a motorcycle for years, now owns a 535i BMW.
I don't drive and spontaneity for me is planning something a day in advance.

Carl hasn't eaten meat, fish or fowl for 45 years.
Me? I can't imagine how anyone can live on air and water alone.

Differences aside, together we share a love for each other and a passion for photography.

Nature is the predominant theme in Carl's photography: landscapes, seascapes and wild animals.

Here's a selection of work from his seascape collection.

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

My photography focuses on capturing light and shadows indoors, and when outdoors I shoot urban architecture, remnants of old buildings, facades, surface textures, and signs.

Here are a few of my architectural photographs, a series of windows.

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

 
Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Thinking back to the shoe/boot exchange, I'm reminded of a wonderful photography blog, the original name, 3191: A Year of Mornings, later changed to 3191 Miles Apart, with the 3191 referring to the mileage between joint bloggers: Maria Alexandra Vettese (MAV) who lives on the East Coast, in Portland, Maine and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (SCB) who lives on the West Coast, in Portland, Oregon.

Their quirky concept of taking a daily morning snapshot of their lives for an entire year and posting the images online as a diptych started back in December of 2006 after seeing and admiring each other's photographs uploaded on Flickr, photos of a still life of their kitchen tables, which coincidently seemed quite similar.

Here are some of their collaborative images with MAV's photographs always shown on the left and SCB's photographs shown on the right.

Photo Credit: 3191milesapart.com

Photo Credit: 3191milesapart.com

Photo Credit: 3191milesapart.com

Photo Credit: 3191milesapart.com

Photo Credit: 3191milesapart.com

Speaking about miles apart... after my cousin read my final draft, he emailed and said: 

"What? We've been communicating since we met, when you were born." Then he added, "The photo was taken very recently; the boot was washed ashore, and shot because I liked the image."

Now that's communication!  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes you just want to hear the words or see them in print.

To view more photography by Carl Richards go to his website here.

You can read more about 3191 Miles Apart here and view their blog here.


Until next time

XOX... Dyan