Remember the days before Cell Phones?

Here are a few of many boxes of personal journals I am reviewing to remember yesterdays.

Recently I made short story from a
faded page I found loose on the bottom of the box.

It brought back an ordinary day- - July 10, 1974- - - I am glad to have it back.

This is a video of the story - Essential Personel.


Remembering 9/11: A Personal Memory

Remembering 9/11

Jim and I were in Montecatini, Italy the day the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked. So far from home - - that's another story. 

We were fortunate that our daughter sent off a quick email from DC to let us know our family members who could have been in immediate "harm's way" were OK. Then the email connection in our hotel went down. Jim and I wanted to get back home.

As many remember that night the skies closed. No planes could leave or enter the US for some days. Jim and I had intended to leave Italy and meet a travel group arriving from Dulles. Obviously they never arrived - leaving Jim and me bumping around Provence for two weeks until the plane tickets we had could take us home. We prayed, cried, and worried about what had happened - but we were not physically hurt by it.

However  - we were often emotionally touched when French people who were very sad for the United States, the losses, and the stricken families reached out to us. They told us how sorry they were. They wanted to say that out loud to a person. As they took our hands or patted our arms their eyes were filled with tears. Pictures and concern was spread on the front pages of newspapers in many languages. Bouquets of lovely flowers were left on the sidewalk outside the American Consulate in Nice with personal condolence notes pinned to the wrappings.  People also left small candles that bravely flickered in the dark. 

I took pictures of those consoling offerings.

Fifteen years later I still see faces of the people and remember their caring for those lost that day and for their devastated families.  


Michael Hyatt's Productivity Summit -

Friday morning - ending another week - and this has been a great week for me.

I am considering choices.

Do you do that?

I tell you I find it hard because I want to do it all - -

But this week I have been having some guidance about choices to increase my focus and step up my productivity.

I am so glad I registered for Michael Hyatt's Productivity Summit on the internet.  For the past 8 days I have been watching a new video every day from  Michael Hyatt . Every day there has been a different speaker who is an authority on some aspect connected to productivity in business and life.  Each video is an in-depth interview with one of the speakers conducted by Michael - who is an excellent interviewer.

Learning new information always excites me. I have loved it!

As a business entrepreneur as a spoken word artist I can apply a lot of what they say to the work aspects  I do to back-up my performance work. If you have read me her at all you already know that I am fascinated by technology so I was quite happy there was plenty of information along those lines.

Michael planned a program that went covered organizing, social media, decision making, health, sleep and a few other topics.

One of my immediate take-aways was the deeper learning of how different conducting business is today ---from working remotely to the reliance on technology's tools. I will never use everything these people do but I can tell you I am very happy to know about the tools and how they are being used. Most important, it opens your eyes to the thinking and the world of younger people today.

I can't possibly report all I heard nor would you want me to but there are several points that stuck to me immediately:

1. Focus - discussions of how we are living in a time of extraordinary and overwhelming distraction and how it is interfering with our ability to concentrate and to "go deep" when we work on intellectual projects and products.

 Not news, right? They added suggestions for getting the upper hand such as -block your internet interruptions - both with personal discipline and apps that will do it for you on your schedule.

2. A fellow named Greg McKeown talked about choices and decisions. My main take-away was a better understanding of the trade-offs that go with every decision - and - the importance of examining the impact of your decisions.

That was exactly the right talk for me because I am juggling a choice between two major story projects and I need to select one to put at the head of my list. After listening to McKeown I wrote down all the trade-offs and pluses and have almost made a final choice.

A big surprise was the interview with Shawn Stevenson on his book Smart Sleep which turned out to be right on target and was fascinating.  Sleep is very important to our productivity and many times busy people sabotage the kind of sleep they get when they finally put their body down. One "biggie" is the information that watching TV  or using electronic devices before bed interferes with your best sleep which is a bed rock for productivity the next day.

Since Jim died I have watched a movie in bed on my iPad every night as sort of a compensation for sleeping alone.

After Shawn's talk I stopped that - and I can feel the difference in the quality of my sleep. I won't try to explain the effect of the light from the computer and devices etc or its impact on RIM sleep - I just urge you to do what I have - read the book.

Many thanks to Michael Hyatt for such uninformative and productive learning experience. I look forward to more!


On the USS Hornet and in PA

Labor Day

Yesterday - some time ago
We were visiting our daughter Robin and her family Brad and their three boys, Jamie, Danny and Scotty in California.

For a family excursion that day we toured the famous WWII Carrier, the USS Hornet - that is docked at Alameda.

A good time for all of us.

Lots of history with many sweet memories.

Jimmy, Monica, Karen and I spent a good afternoon at our family get-away place near Gettysburg.
Entertaining conversation and laughs over lunch at a near-by cafe.
Time together and an escape from the city is always a good thing.

A good day.

A Painting that is Part of My Story

Seated Woman
artist: Ellouise Schoettler
Acrylic on Canvas
4' x 6'

Today when I walked into Jimmy and Monica's home I stopped as I passed the doorway for a close look at this familiar painting which hangs in their living room.  I remembered painting it. The woman is a studio model who was sitting every day of a July week in 1975.  That's 41 years ago but seeing her transported me back into the studio. I felt I could breathe in the pungent smell of  turpentine where some near me were painting with oils.  

Lately I have written posts about working on my
collection of personal journals. Initially I thought a memoir could be gathered from my 30 year collection of notebooks until I realized the story also has threads from art works, letters and other ephemera I have kept all these years. Every bit of these items also carries some story. My memory seems to have registered all these items in a way that I can remember them and what was going on at the time. Well - need I add that the scope of the project has grown.

For instance - take this painting. I gave it to Jimmy in the 1980s because his apartment walls were bare and I had no wall space left for it at  our house. To be honest, I was not sure of it at that time. But thanks to the years of seeing it hanging in Jimmy and Monica's home I have come to appreciate the good in it - in fact there are times I am proud of it. Most of all I am grateful its not tucked in a storage bin because whenever I see it - that painting carries me back to a very exciting time in my life filled with opening to art and seeing the world differently.

When I painted this painting I was in a summer-school graduate painting class at American University.  I was a 39 year old mother of three, who was in my second year of work for an MFA in painting. The instructor, Ron Haynie, was a favorite of mine. He was my first painting teacher four years before at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross when I was a Sophomore working for an undergraduate degree - a BA. Ron was one of the most articulate people I have ever known which was a gift to his students. When teaching he could tell you the same thing 10 times or until you "got it". He was an AU Painting MFA graduate and teaching at Dunbarton was his first teaching job.  In a few years AU reached out and brought him onto their teaching staff where he remained until his death in 2008.  Here is a tribute post I wrote about Ron Haynie at that time.

Daily I realize that one of the most valuable benefits that comes from re-reading old journals or looking through piles of papers and fingering memorabilia or studying old art work  - is finding and remembering the people I have been fortunate to know.


Surfing Re-newed

Just stepped out of August so the timing it OK.

Began this blog in 2005 - - this post includes one that I wrote that year and then this "surfing redux"
came later.

Now - - -  More about surfing - which seems appropriate on the day I have just brought home a new, faster MacBook Air - which means I will be doing more surfing  - - - - - - -


Surfing redux

I found another August post that I want to re-visit.

Since I don't swim I could never comfortably play in the surf but with the computer I can dive right in
and surf
and surf
and surf.

Two years ago when I discovered the fun of riding the information highway I wrote about my experience.

When I tried to tell my Aunt Loretto about the advantages of having a computer and told her how glad I was for email - - she was quiet for a time before telling me, " Ellouise I have lost quite a few of my friends to the computer - so I don't think I want one."

I know what she means.

Maybe I am one of the ones who is sometimes among the missing.

It is definitely a word to the wise.

From 8/12/2005
Discovering Surfing
When I woke up this morning I lay in bed thinking about things I might or could write about on this blog. Then I realized - I am becoming addicted to the computer.

I love working on the computer.

I have loved working on the computer since we bought our first luggable in the 1980s.

I like the sound of my fingers touching the keys - the light click of my fingernails against the hard plastic. Typing makes me feel so productive.

I love email. Being connected to people - immediately.

Recently we set up WiFi in our home. WOW!

The freedom of not being tethered to my desk upstairs in my office is exhilarating. I can use my laptop in front of the TV, on the dining room table, in the bedroom, everywhere. Instantly I am completely linked.

I have become fascinated by the internet itself - linking and linking and linking - moving further and further afield from where I start. I have discovered surfing - - surfing widely on the web. I did not understand what they meant - its a wild and free ride - - -

I feel so unfettered, yet so productive as I hear myself clicking and clicking and clicking -

No matter that the dishes are in the sink, the bed unmade, my work behind schedule, my lists growing longer and due dates looming larger and closer.



Essential Personnel

A yellowed and water stained page was loose on the bottom of one of the boxes of journals in the basement. The page is written in July 1974. That's the summer I was taking summer-school classes for my Masters Program at American University.

This is the set-up for the incident I wrote about.

July 10 was an ordinary day - at a time when cell phones were not a given in every pocket.

Jim left at his usual 6:30 am on his daily commute to his office down-town where he had scheduled a full day of  patient appointments. I left home several hours after him for classes at American University.  Jimmy (18 ), who was working as a life guard left at 8 am to open a near-by pool. Karen, 16, also a life guard, was sleeping in on the 10th.  Robin, nearly 15, did not have to check in at the neighborhood office where she was a junior administrative assistant until noon that day. By 9 am the house was quiet.

July 10, 1974

For no reason - the page opens saying - My Aunt Mary Cobb suggested I record some of the humorous anecdotes which occur around here - 
"perhaps you can use them someday."

Monday returning from A.U. at 4:30 pm after a Modern Art Exam I was startled and a little unnerved to recognize Jim in his car waiting for the light to turn green at the corner of Reno Road and Nebraska Avenue - he was headed back toward his office. That was strange because I knew he had a full day scheduled. I honked the horn and waved - he waved back and smiled, He did not look upset in the few seconds I saw him as my green Volvo passed his blue Toyota Supra.

Driving the rest of the way up Connecticut Avenue I calmed myself with repeated reassurances that 
he looked calm. If anything DIRE had happened he wouldn't be going back to work.  But I knew that something had happened.

First thing I saw when I walked into the house was Karen sitting on the couch watching T.V. 
"Why was your daddy at home this morning?"
She barely looked up and said. "He had to call the plumber."


Then she told me that she and Robin woke up about 11 am to smell gas in the house and they heard a
roaring sound in the basement! The water heater hose had come loose and water was rushing in filling the entire basement - 4" of water. 

"We called Dad on his "emergency line."  - - he rushed home. 
"We knew you were having a test - and we did not know where to call you anyway."

Jim told me later that he received the call just as a new patient finished telling him about her husband who was never home - " and I get called away to handle a problem at home. 
Really great timing."

I laughed when I read this today. It was an everyday I had forgotten  - and love remembering --especially as it spotlights a time before cell phones and reminds me how we worked out a solution to keep our family lines of communication open.

The year before when Karen had fallen at school and was in class they were unable to reach me or Jim.  Karen was not badly injured but when there is an accident schools want to talk with parents - then.

Clearly we had to work out something since I was not a stay-at-home Mom anymore and Jim closed his phone when he was with his patients.
So - Jim installed a new line for incoming calls only which sat on his desk. The rule was - only emergency calls

As Robin likes to say, "Dad had us covered. He was our essential personnel."

BTW - Jim was a Psychiatrist. His leaving the patient was a big decision. But he did not hesitate to head home - -
                                                      and the patient came back.


A Surprise Connection

So glad to be with members of MDBPW and MDNow today to observe Women's Equality Day and to enjoy the company of women who have been on the front lines for women's issues for many years.
We speak the same language.

Loved seeing Ruby Aridi wearing a  
10 year old celebration ribbon that she brings out once a year. Tradition.

Very happy to meet Marion Freyer, a retired  Manager in the DC Government who was in charge of programs for women.
When she walked in I noticed that she was carrying 
The Spirit of Houston.   
I touched her on the shoulder.
"I see you are carrying a historic book there. 
I have one too."
We laughed and shared memories of the International Women's Year national meeting in Houston in 1977.
Telling our stories to each other brought it all back - memories flooding both of us.

We had lots in common.

Were both there.
It was a moment!