Friday, February 26, 2010

Arynne Simon

More than 30 years ago I took a class in assertiveness training from an amazing woman by the name of Arynne Simon. She was vibrant, intelligent, beautiful and she taught me lessons in life that have served me well. Ever since I took her classes, in which she taught me to say, "I want," "Would you be willing," and other phrases that helped me ask for what I wanted and accept when I got a no, I have practiced her lessons. I know her teaching made a difference in my life.
Soon after her class was over she asked me if I wanted to work with her. I accepted, and then, with no real explanation, I bailed on her. I wasn't ready for the kind of commitment she was requiring, but I was sorry I disappointed her. I never saw her again.
Today, while cleaning out some files I found a piece of inspiration she had sent to me. She wrote a short message to me on the bottom of the sheet, saying that she thought I would enjoy it. She signed it Arynne Simon.
I decided to google her to see if I could find her and send her a message. I found a web site for her, and read some of her entries. I discovered that she had gone on to be a motivational speaker, a life coach, an organization consultant, among other things. She had a list of articles in her archives. I noticed that the last entry was in November, 2006. I sent her an email and it was returned.
I did a further search and discovered to my dismay a personal blog by her husband, Will (or Bill) Simon. Arynne had a debilitating stroke March 21, 2007, three years ago. I wept as I read through three years of Bill's posts, describing in poignant detail how she had the stroke and had started the recovery process, but then apparently had another bleed, which caused continued deterioration. Today she lives in a care facility, a shell of her former self.
I have made a commitment to read her inspirational posts on her blog that is still up and functioning. The following was her last post in her archives on her web site.
Thank you Arynne for changing my life, for giving me tools that I am continuing to practice all these years later.

       How to Live
by Charles Harper Webb, from Amplified Dog.
©Red Hen Press. Reprinted with permission.

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
bought in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.

Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say

And this by Arynne Simon.

Curiosity is often considered a vulgar habit - "Don't ask too many questions," "Don't look at those people," "Don't stare" are ways we've been trained out of a natural instinct to learn more.  If we don't indulge our curiosity, we cannot learn, we keep ourselves from knowing other people and building real relationships.  Worst of all, we will not have as much fun on an everyday basis.  Formal study, the reading of biographies, watching life from within a darkened theatre do not satisfy in the way I am suggesting.  We need to learn how to discover people and how they think in the way of Steinbeck (Travels With Charley) and William Least Heat Moon (Blue Highways).
I find that curiosity, once stirred, rarely sleeps until the appetite for knowledge is satisfied.  My seemingly boundless curiosity requires continual exploration and satisfaction.  I'm sure yours does, too; let's decide not to deny ourselves that pleasure.
I'm sure you can find non-offensive ways to ask questions so that the people you meet will tell you what they think, how they perceive the world, and how a problem can be solved.  You'll be amazed to find how very clever most people are - even though their solutions and conclusions may be very different from yours.  And while your curiosity is being fed, the people who have a chance to explain the workings of their mind will be validated... and upon this validations the best relationships are built.
There are people in our nation who think that there is only one side to a coin... that their way is the only way to think, to live, to behave.  For those of us who say we like to travel, considered that there is not a more exciting land to explore than the mind of another person.
Perhaps I could motivate you to explore the ideas of others if I offered mileage points.  But all I promise is that by asking quality questions (any question except "why") your every day will be a safari into unexplored territory and you can enjoy a fascinating life - wherever you are - without jet lag or packing or email build-up.
I describe curiosity as "lust of the mind." So far (and Hooray!) curiosity is not listed among the seven deadly sins.

Thank you Arynne. May you be at peace.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

doggie love

I took the photo below of Taz in our garden a few days ago. It was uncanny that her expression reminded me so much of Casey. Different markings, yes. But so much the same. Taz is a very different dog than Casey. She was calm and reassuring, even from the beginning. Taz will grow into loyalty, of course, but right now, it's "me, puppy, me puppy....all about me." She's a sweetheart, though.

I took a series of photos of Casey her last summer with us. We went to the Tieton River and we shared a sandwich. She could barely walk, but I helped her down an embankment to sit near the river near some gray rocks. It was the last really good time I had with her, except for coming home in the evening and having her greet me. Even though she had difficulty standing, she would wag her tail, stand up, and stick her nose between my legs. I would scratch her on her back near her tail. Ironically, when I get up in the morning I kneel down and Taz sticks her head between my legs and I either rub her belly or scratch her back.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


We brought this root of lemongrass back from my nephew's in Borrego Springs. It was a dried stick when we found it out of its water jar on its transport across two state lines to be planted in our desert backyard.  I decided to put it in water, trusting that there was still life contained within the dry stock. Nevermind that I could buy a lemongrass plant online, or at a nursery. I wanted Nga's lemongrass!

Here's what it is says online about lemongrass:
Helps Repel Mosquitoes From Inside Your Home, Your Patio, Pool and Garden. Helps Keep You BUZZ-FREE, BITE-FREE FROM SPRING TO FALL! Yes, amazing "LEMON GRASS", nature's own indoor/outdoor natural protection against biting mosquitoes. Named for its lemon aroma and delicious lemon flavor. Most incredible of all---rub "LEMON GRASS" over your skin for at home or away-from-home protection at beach, golf course, picnics or fishing. 

We'll see. I'm looking forward to the tea.  I'm trying to decide where to plant it, but probably close to the patio on the bank above the new wall.

Either way, it's fun to take a dry stick and turn it into a plant. 

Winter orchard

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Robins are back

I'm not sure what it means and I wish I had kept track of when they returned other years. But this is a little strange. It seems they normally come back in March. We're either going to have a very long hot summer or we'll get snow in March and April. Screwy weather. And no, it's not because of global warming. It's because of an El Ninyo off the Pacific Northwest Coast which brings warmer than normal weather to this part of the country. The ski resorts are hurting. In part, it could be because of a warming trend. But then how do you explain unseasonably cold and snowy in other parts of the country.

Either way, I think it's time to start planning the garden.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The other great thing about puppies...

They make you laugh!
For some reason, Taz doesn't like sleeping on top of her cushy bed in her crate.
So, ... she crawls under it.

Sunrise over Selah--the benefits of a new puppy

The way our house sits on the lot does not provide a morning view of the sun rising. Plus, our bedroom is the other end of the house, so at 7 a.m., it's still dark in the bedroom.  Actually, we rarely see the sun rise mid-winter anyway, no matter which way the house is facing or what time we get up.

But since bringing Taz home, our chances of seeing the sun rise have increased.  Taz needs to go to her puppy-potty place in the early morning, and voila. Sunrise.

One morning when we visited the potty place, a flock of Canadian geese flew over. She was alert and curious. Another morning, large flocks of starlings took off from the neighbors trees. Again, Taz noticed and watched them fly. It's like seeing the world afresh through a baby's eyes, except this time, it's through the eyes of a puppy. Who would have a thought?