Friday, December 25, 2009

Just Couldn't Wait Until Sunday for This One

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

Christmas Eve. I know, I know, it’s not Sunday morning, but it’s almost 11 p.m. on a night of miracles old and new.

What better time to write, huh?

Spent the evening with my cousin Lori, dining at a nearby Mexican restaurant to get my holiday fix of tamales (not bad, not as good as those the Acevedos from across the street used to bring each Christmas morning for Mom, Dad and me to scarf down in 60 seconds).

It was the companionship and conversation that made tonight one of those miracles one shouldn’t ignore. So many gifts come our way this time of year (after all I wrote about that last week), but it’s truly the miracles right under our noses that I’ll never get over.

Lori and I have an ongoing joke. I say “I love you.” She replies, “I love you more.” I say, “No, I doubt that.” She says, “I don’t” and we carry on until we say that this is a disagreement that will never be solved.

Lori is my hero for so many reasons, and that’s why, through my blog, I get to say “I love you more” and she can’t reply. So there, Lori!

Here’s why she’s my hero: There’s a lot of adversity in her life that would make weaker souls crumble. I’m not as strong as her by a long shot.

Yet she’s there for me whenever doubts overtake me, when I need a sounding board to vent some aggravation, to say it’s all right for me to be focused on myself as I experience changes I don’t understand.

I’ve carried a load of guilt about this encroaching self-centeredness, and expressed that to her tonight. And she said it was all right.

Though I’m not completely convinced, mind you, but I have come to realize that one must understand oneself to clear the way to benefit others … and having loved ones like Lori helps me keep on track. With her as inspiration, I’m finding my way.

I’m grappling with some spiritual issues that have kept me searching harder than I have ever done to find answers. We all face these issues sometime in our lives…and the questions just keep coming for me right now.

I’ve been given glimpses of answers, mere wisps of clarity, enough to convince me that we’re not supposed to have all the puzzle pieces at once.

“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” goes the refrain from a U2 song, and I have to agree…but what happens when you do?

Of late, I’ve been attending a local church, don’t know why, maybe to see if there were some answers there. What I did find was a warm bunch of folks, not unexpected, since churches are big-hearted communities of those who gather in His name.

I was also looking for peace, a timeout from the hubbub my psyche is going through with so many changes taking place of late. The little sanctuary was a nice start to finding some answers, and did provide some peace.

Though I found some alignment with some of my own beliefs, questions still call, particularly about “faith.”

That’s tough to comprehend, I’ve come to accept. Faith is faith, don’t overthink it, just trust that it is and will always be a refuge.

I’ve found a bit of that refuge at a tiny “adoration” chapel at the Catholic church near my home. This quiet space calms my soul, a perfect place for quiet, mind-clearing meditation. I stopped in, quite spur of the moment on my way home from Lori’s tonight.

Sitting in the silence of the chapel has a profound effect on me, no denying that. I’m moved to the point of tears most times – and why is that? Am I such an emotional basketcase that I have to seek solace there? Is it because my heart is open? Is some spirit working a miracle in me? That’s almost too dramatic for me to comprehend … why me? It could be all of those things, and finally, why not me?

I know that I’ve been touched by the divine – let’s just put it out there, by God – several times in my recent past. I don’t understand these occurrences; maybe it’s not for me to do so. Just accept … accept pure faith, unadulterated by man’s interpretations of the divine, of God.

One of those divine taps on the shoulder is Lori...a gift to my life.

Maybe that’s the miracle tonight – faith, and the love that goes hand in hand with it, is all I need right now at this moment.

It’s 11:57 p.m., three minutes til Christmas Day and the long ago miracle that promises so many miracles to come.

With that, I wish you all faith, love and all the blessings your lives can hold.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thank God for Everyday Gifts

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

It’s the weekend before Christmas – and yes, I’ve got plenty of finishing up on some gifts and such, but I’m not stressing…some of those gifts may be delivered a week after the Big Day. I’ve got the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and that will be plenty of time to finish up. They’ll still be gifts, no matter when they’re delivered.

Really folks, shouldn’t we break out of the focus on just one day and try to spread the joy throughout the year with unexpected random acts of kindness, little gifts strewn like twinkle lights from January to December?

Generosity shouldn’t have a timeline, not keyed to birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Chanukah, whatever. Gifts of a smile to a troubled person (and listening, really listening as they vent their pain), picking up the tab for tea because conversation is so precious, a surprise visit to a loved one or a long, deep conversation on the phone, sharing the world’s great art with a young one … those are treasures we cannot measure.

I’ll admit that I’m sounding very philosophical right now. I get this way like lots of folks as one year approaches conclusion and the new year brings so much promise. Hell, even Sting said the winter is a time of retrospection on this morning's "CBS Sunday Morning" profile about him and his latest CD.

I find myself saying that I look forward to the first week of January more than I do to Christmas. And I get scolded by folks for being willing to give away the next two weeks and not live each day fully. Pardon me, but I like looking forward to good things and a new year is one of those for me.

I’ll still live each day until Jan. 1 fully, I assure you, but I also look forward to closing the book on 2009.

Though this year has been a revelation for me in so many ways – a whole new circle of wonderful friends I’ve mentioned in this blog, an enriched creativity that I’m still not sure where it will take me, and a greater calm than I’ve never experienced before – I look forward to taking all of that into 2010 to continue this journey I’m on.

I hope you all receive the gifts I’ve been given this year – love of family, friendship, creativity, calm. These and others are not assigned to be given on any specific day, thank God. We get to enjoy them every moment of each day.

Love to you all!

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"The Voice" is on the radio, finally!

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

Yesterday, I felt like I was in an episode of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, because I, too, am now co-hosting a radio show.

The show is hosted by Deborah, the owner of the Village Book Shop in the Glendora Village, on, “the Voice of the Valley,” and a tiny Internet radio station with God knows how many listeners. The show airs Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m., and was to kick off officially yesterday. Here’s the station’s home page where you can click “listen live”:

I admit, I was sorta excited. See, when I was in high school, a friend nicknamed me “The Voice,” urging me to pursue a radio career. I was flattered to get such a cool nickname; too bad I was too shy to follow through on his suggestion and opted for a print journalism career, as many of you know.

Of course, an email went out yesterday morning to family and friends that “The Voice” was actually going to be on the air, to invite them to listen to this first show, and to be gentle in their “constructive criticism” afterward. Hey, that’s the only way you get better, right?

I was feeling good about overcoming a bit of stage, er, mic fright in doing this show. Deb and I did a test run of it last week, after she literally shanghaied me into the studio when I happened by the bookstore just before she headed across the street to the studio. Come along, she said, we’ll just be chatting about what the show would be like.

Right – now I’m a co-host, but I admit this will be fun after all. And would’ve been fun yesterday, until the rains came.

Now you have to understand that California has not experienced rain storms of this force, chill, and duration for half a decade or more. As you can imagine, it’s been pretty dramatic around here. The downtown Christmas Parade was canceled, local restaurateurs were stuck with extra supplies to feed expected post-parade crowds. But the torrents at about 9 a.m. nixed all that.

So I’m on my way to pick up our in-studio guest, Russ, whose company of players, the Route 66 Radio Theater, is staging a radio drama of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol next weekend at the bookstore.

Oh, we had it all figured out. I would interview Russ about the show, and I even sent my questions Friday night to brief him so he’d be ready. Then Deborah would talk about her book picks for the week. We were ready.

On my way, I get a call from Deborah telling me the station is “down” because of the rain – something about old GTE phone lines and such. I just had to laugh – the invincible Internet at the mercy of a few raindrops. Just goes to show ya! California cannot handle rain.
Welcome to A Cathie Home Companion, where anything can happen, and usually does. Ya gotta just laugh. The absurdity of it just makes me smile.

And there’s always next week, God willing and the creeks don’t rise (or the water crests over the curbs along Glendora Avenue).

I really believe this will be a great show, because Deb is doing some amazing things at the bookstore. Just as Garrison Keillor has surrounded himself with creative folk of all kinds, Deb has done the same. She has a way of finding details about everyone who walks into her bookstore, and adds them to her circle of fascinating friends who all have a story to tell whether through a workshop or a performance or a lecture at the bookshop. She has surrounded herself with a fascinating group of freinds, and each will make an interesting interview for the show. I can't wait to introduce you to them all.

I hope you’ll listen in sometime…and be gentle with your “constructive criticism,” please.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou