Monday, October 27, 2008

Art That Shaped My Life - Gone With the Wind

Sometimes while I'm working and have the television running in the background I'll surf through the channels and come across a television show or movie, sometimes a song that magically transports me to another place and time. It isn't the memories that come flooding back that have me so mesmerized as the realization that in some instances the moments spent watching or listening somehow have etched not just my memory but my personality, my passions, my dreams. Imagine that - how an art like music and "theater" can shape who a person becomes...

Gone With the Wind
- in GERMAN - Come on, admit it - that's funny!

In the middle of fifth grade, while stationed in Fort Drum, Watertown, NY we received news that we were relocating to Stuttgart, Germany. I was attending my first Catholic School, Our Lady of Sacred Heart and was a frequent visitor to Sister Bernadette's office, our school principal. I was a dream of a student but had difficulty understanding and accepting how the world was created in seven days and topics of evolution and the time line of the dinosaurs would send my head into a tail spin. Sister Bernadette would just smile and listen to my ramblings as I played with the floppy gray rabbit in her office.

My memories of the school and my friends are happy ones. I think that's the time in my life that I dove into my "tom boyishness". I remember that Christmas, my mother volunteered to take me and a group of my all boy friends to the Salmon River Mall to find our teacher the perfect holiday gift from the monies we had collected in class. She was fond of pigs and we found her a particularly adorable stuffed pig that oinked and knew she'd love it! After our shopping spree we convinced my mother to let us watch Bill Murray's Scrooged that was in theaters that Christmas. Imagine my mother's horror as the opening scene showcased scantily clad Vegas-style dancers in full almost undress as the group of twelve year old boys and I giggled uncontrollably!

My last day in class was an emotional one as everyone cried and they presented me with cards and tokens of remembrance and a beautiful "We'll forever miss you, Dorana!" cake. I remember carefully gathering all of my precious mementos onto the bus and then on the walk home; my special New York treasures...

My parents had purchased a house while we lived in upstate New York and it was tucked away off of the main route on a winding dirt road. Our Spaniel/Beagle mix would run to meet me at the bus when he heard the wheels screech to a halt. It was a custom cedar siding house that had high ceilings and skylights. The first time I saw the house and the skylights I excitedly exclaimed,

"Daddy are you getting me a giraffe?"

Walking to the house that day I was filled with sadness, but somewhat relieved knowing that I wouldn't have to shovel the driveway of snow every afternoon after school in my uniform so that my parents could get their cars into the garage when they got home from work. I would develop huge welts all over my body from the extreme cold - the doctors said I was "allergic to the cold".

My father said "she's allergic to shoveling!"

I was still in awe over how school was never closed for a snow day! I definitely would not miss the tunnels of snow that would pile up in the winters.

As we awaited housing in Germany, we lived in an apartment above a bookstore in a little town in the Black Forest named Calw. My little sister would sing,

"I live in a cow, MOO MOO MOO! I live in a COW COW, MOO MOO MOO!"

It was something out of one of my fairy tale books; cobblestone roads, Tudor-style houses stacked line by line, beautiful bridges... And we lived smack in the middle of town across the street from the cathedral whose bells would ring every hour on the hour! Right in front of our building was a flowing water fountain which we would spend hours playing in that summer.

Our apartment... it was something right out of National Lampoon's European Vacation! It was a "two bedroom" where we shared the only toilet with the apartment next door, complete with an old fashioned skeleton key with a beautifully swirled handle and the doors had large keyholes you could see through. In the middle of the night when the young couple came home and you had to pee, you'd get caught walking through the hallway in your pajamas! Forgetting to check for available toilet paper before you sat on the pot was not an option!

The apartment had an open foyer with a corner booth-styled square table that led into the kitchen... Oh the KITCHEN - there was a complete floor to ceiling mural the entire span of the wall of an actual life-sized photo of a herd of deer in the woods!

After a party with friends, we came home one night to my father jumping into the air!

"Angie!" he yelled at my mother, "There's deer in the kitchen!"

I fell asleep that night in a fit of giggles!

Our shower was located in my parent's bedroom. Literally. In the MIDDLE of their bedroom! It was a standing shower completely surrounded in a square shower curtain contraption and my sister and I shared our space in the "living room" where we were ecstatic to find a pair of Murphy beds - beds that folded into the wall - that we slept on. Cleaning our "room" was a game of "how much can we throw into the wall and cover with our beds before it's no longer flush to the wall?" - game.

One morning I woke the house with screams as a man walked along the side of my window as if suspended in mid-air three stories above the ground,

"Morgan fraulien!" ...He was putting up a tent for smoked fish for a weekend festival!

The streets outside our apartment would transform every Saturday morning into an incredible farmer's market with fresh fruits and vegetables, produce, incredible fresh meats and this heavenly little tent that made fresh to order crepes with the most delectable sauces and toppings! My mouth waters with the memories of fresh curry wurst and brotchen, rotisserie chicken and the sweetest chocolates and cherries you can ever imagine right outside of the door every weekend!

My little sister and I had to wake up before dawn every morning to catch the first of two buses for school. We would run down the street, our heels clinking against the cobblestone as we ran up the stairs to the public bus, "Schnell! Schnell fraulien!" The bus drivers would wait for us each morning while the town commuters sneered at us for being late.

Lazy Sunday afternoons, we would curl up on my parent's bed and watch TV... without cable or any channels in English. We would surf through the channels looking for something to watch and would always settle on Spartacus, the mini series North and South, and of course Gone With the Wind... in GERMAN!

My sister and I would sit there mesmerized by the wonderful costumes and sets and be taken away to another time and world history as my mother would tell her version of the stories and about when she first saw them.

I'd then rush to the library that week to borrow the books and learn the scripts so that I could create my own translations when we'd catch the movies on TV again that weekend!

I fell in love with history and theater that summer... and now when I catch glimpses of those movies, I'm whisked away to that fairy tale cobble stoned town where we were magically immersed into another time; where the church bells sung me to sleep every night and townsmen floated outside my third-story windows!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I hope you are all sharing in this gorgeous fall day and that it is filled with sunshine and smiles! I'd like to take some time today to thank everyone for all of their wonderful feedback and support of my new blog! I've had some truly great convos, emails, and comments and I am very appreciative!

I would love to take all the credit, but I definitely could not have created such a uniquely me space without the patiently talented Kristen at Please take a second to check out her shoppe and wonderful graphics and designs!

I had the images and the vision of what I was hoping it would look like, but without Kristen's help it would have taken me weeks of playing with HTML code and let's face it - I'm a writer and an artist - I do not need to be a master of all trades! (I'm still convincing myself of this...)

I am a financial wellness and wealth coach by day and I constantly find myself at my client's kitchen tables coaching them not to engage in tasks that will not net them their hourly rate of desired pay!

In business, you need to spend 90% of your time in productive activities that will create either more productivity or increase your income. It is my nature to obsess over "details". If I had committed myself to creating my new blog or recreating my mySpace page to the exact specifications that I wanted myself, I would have obsessed about it for weeks not days - and even when I would have achieved the desired look, I know that I would have continued to play having had reset my work schedule to include HTML coding!

Don't get me wrong - I did start playing with it on my own for about two hours that day, but I was able to snap out of it once I realized that half my work morning had flown by and I had accomplished nothing. One of my favorite business quotes, "Are you busy or productive?"

At the end of the day feeling drained by hours of tasking only to find that I really hadn't accomplished anything I set out to do, I decided to stop the insanity!

So I quickly logged out of mySpace and blogspot and contacted Kristen and sent her the images I was interested in using, the overall feel I was hoping for, got a quote, and set to work on the projects with someone who knew what she was doing! It was economical, productive and the net effect was a week of marketing and creating that I wouldn't have had had I done it on my own!

What it cost me to hire someone to do it was a mere fraction of MY cost per hour of my own production time! In simpler terms, I was able to produce and create in that time MORE than what it cost me for someone else to do the task...

As I write this I remember that I learned this years ago! When I started college, I was a full-time student and worked full-time in a restaurant but still lived at home. I would get home at 2am from work sometimes completely exhausted to my mother's fussing at me for forgetting to do the dishes or not cleaning the bathroom or leaving laundry in the washer...

After about a week of the ridiculousness - regardless how much I wanted to yell, "Are you kidding me?! I'm never home," I picked up the classifieds and hired a wonderful woman named Terry for $50.00/week to dust, sweep, mop, clean the bathrooms, scrub the kitchen... It was worth it to me to spend half a night's income to pacify my mother at home and give me peace the little time I was home...

Just because you're in business for yourself doesn't mean that you have to do every part of the business.

  • Figure out what you're good at, the activities that bring you the best results and then STICK TO THAT PLAN for at least 4-6 weeks! You're not going to be able to measure the results of an activity if you change it every time you hear something new! Pick a few projects to start off with and go from there.
  • Set a SCHEDULE and stick to it!
  • Hire out your weakness and/or get help with administrative tasks

Working for yourself is the most rewarding job you can have, but you'll never work harder! I have learned a lot about entrepreneurship... anyone that works hard at anything for ten years will be successful in it - just make sure you're doing something you love - because it will still be work ten years from now if it isn't.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Art That Shaped My Life - The Little Mermaid

I remember the summer that the movie came out on video. I was twelve and I recall throwing a tantrum at the Post Exchange video department trying to get my father to buy it for me! It was that remarkable time in my life where I was nearing the end of my age of innocence.

Ask any military brat and there is always a time, a place, where their life seems to stand still. A time when they recall their family being a real family. A time that was marked by happiness and the first resemblance of stability and normalcy; where real friendships blossomed for the first time. A time when you weren't just that new kid in school.

That time for me was in Pattonville, Germany; a little Army community in the town of Ludwigsburg.

The movie of that segment in my life - Disney's The Little Mermaid.

It makes me laugh to see the name on the screen as I type it! I am NOT the girly-girl type. My girlfriends and I in middle school were the "tom boys." Finding us in dresses was a difficult task even during school dances! We were smart and fiercely independent! Our dress code was predominantly jeans, sneakers and whatever we could steal out of our dad's closets and we never wore anything that revealed our already matured curves.

I wanted to be an aeronautics engineer and my best friend wanted to be the first woman to jump into a black hole! We had our whole academic careers planned out at twelve. Our handwriting was almost exactly alike and we would duplicate our homework for the classes we were good at and just swap them out in the morning before class for one another instead of wasting time on homework for every subject in school; both straight A's and never missed a day of class. ...well, almost.

Our school projects were always due on Monday and we always had the best of intentions to finish them over the weekend during our weekend overnights - projects of course that had been scheduled sometimes months earlier that we had never really started. Mondays would come and we would beg our parents to let us stay home to finish the projects that never seemed to be completed on time. We would always get stern reactions, but my mother always called in sick to work, herded us into the kitchen where we would prop ourselves onto the kitchen counters as my mother made us fried rice for lunch as we recited The Little Mermaid from the opening song to the finishing credits. My father would pop in from lunch knowing his girls were home from school where he would crack the whip at our procrastination, endlessly tease my best friend, eat the brownies we made earlier in the morning and make us both promise not to turn another project in late again!

And we didn't. That fall everything changed in our little perfect community. Our service member parents got orders to deploy to Operation Desert Shield. Those lazy care-free days of reciting movies and singing songs gave way to opening packages of funny money and desert head wraps. The deployments lasted almost two years and nothing was ever really the same again; I was never the same again.

Deployments are tough on military marriages and families - young teens.

Shortly after my father came home from Kuwait, his whole unit got stationed in Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia.

The time my father was away and our move away from our little world in Pattonville changed my life forever in so many ways; but it was nice to move as a group this time around. A lot of my father's colleagues purchased homes in the same neighborhood and it was nice to have familiar friends and a small support system during the change to a new environment.

That first year in Columbus was a difficult one. It had been many years since I had been enrolled in a public school. I remember the day that I walked into the first of several schools I attended in Columbus. Everything seemed like a normal day until I walked into the lunch room. It was at that point that I was exposed to a social phenomenon I had only read about in books and watched on TV.

I was shocked to see that the lunch room was completely split down the middle in tables where the white students were on one side and the black were on the other. I remember standing there in total shock and then panic as I surveyed the room trying to understand what I was seeing.

Growing up on Army installations we were always exposed to so many diverse cultures, races, and languages, that segregation was a foreign concept. I realized that just like any society we also created social groups but instead of by race or color, we created groups based on interests primarily music! Although the music "segregation" were often against color lines, there were always large numbers of white kids who hung out with the "rappers" and black kids who ran with the "metal" kids. Perhaps the most intriguing part of it all was that in the big scheme of things besides the relative minority of kids in those music groups, the other social groups throughout school looked like something right out of an After School Special - groups based on interests, not on color.

My immediate group of closest friends in middle school in Germany were a rainbow of stunning girls from vastly different cultures. A soft-spoken exotic island beauty with long flowing dark hair and fair skin from Guam, a firey red head with vibrant striking green eyes and fair skinned Mexican - explain that one - a tall, boisterous, athletic Italian brunette, and the most popular girl in school, a full-figured black
girl - fiercely loyal!

And there I was in the middle of this lunch room in a panic trying to figure out which one of these black and white two worlds I would belong... Right before I felt myself turn away into a river of tears, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. My Table. The melting pot of children in the sea of white and black. I walked towards it as they all looked up with smiles on their faces understanding my hesitant glance in their direction. As I sat down they all took turns introducing themselves, first their names and secondly their last known address... the Army Brat insignia...

My first year in Columbus ended like it began, saying goodbye to those that I had grown to love.

On the last night before my closest new friend's family was leaving to their new duty station in Alaska we stayed up late watching The Little Mermaid. My memories of that night are so different than watching the movie just a couple of years earlier and reciting it in the kitchen as my mom made us lunch while we played hookie from school...

This time I sat in my parent's family room, in the arms of a boy who had been my closest friend during that difficult year. I remember the pain of watching him go, having to say good bye again. But this time is was somehow different. The feelings were different. That first innocent love. The kind that grows from knowing someone before you really know yourself. We sat there that night, next to one another, barely breathing as our hands lightly touched and we listened to Ariel praying

What would I give
To live where you are?
What would I pay
To stay here beside you?
What would I do to see you
Smiling at me?

And everytime I catch a glimpse of Ariel's new cartoon on TV or the giant billboard in Time Square advertising the new show on Broadway I'm taken back on a swirling roller coaster of emotions of friendship, family, lost, and first love...

Who says an animated feature is just child's play...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Art That Shaped My Life - Uncle Buck

Sometimes while I'm working and have the television running in the background I'll surf through the channels and come across a television show or movie, sometimes a song that magically transports me to another place and time. It isn't the memories that come flooding back that have me so mesmerized as the realization that in some instances the
moments spent watching or listening somehow have etched not just my memory but my personality, my passions, my dreams. Imagine that - how an art like music and "theater" can shape who a person becomes...

Uncle Buck - I was in junior high school the night my mother planned to take a house full of my friends to the movies. We were stationed in Pattonville Military Base in Germany and my father was away at a school at Virginia Beach stateside.

As we were walking out, my father's First Sergeant and the Chaplain met us at the front door.

My memory of my mother that day is one that I will never forget.

She was fearless, calm, determined.

I remember the Sergeant starting with, "Mrs. Vazquez..." and my mother cutting him off saying,

"Is he alive?"

He responded that my father was stable, suffered from a heart attack and that they wanted for her to fly to be with him while in recovery.

She grabbed her purse, ushered the men towards the door and continued,

"GREAT! He's on the beach! I have the kids, the pets, the bills, in a country half way around the world without my family and
he's the one having a heart attack?! We'll have to take care of this later; I'm taking my kids and their friends to the movies!"

She herded the growing crowd of
oblivious teenagers down the street trying not to show the potential crisis at hand.

We loudly crowded into several rows of the theater and in the opening scenes of the movie, Uncle Buck is sent to take care of his nieces and nephews when the grandfather has a
heart attack!

We roared with laughter at the irony!

From that point on, my family somehow takes center stage in crisis - we
shine in emergency rooms and police stations. Nothing is funnier than blood and tears!

And when things are so completely unmanageable, I grab my keys, clutch my purse, get in the car and head to a movie theater where after watching any kind of movie for an hour or two of dark seclusion, you can immerse yourself into another world and another place, surfacing nothing seems so dramatic that can't be dealt with...

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Frost...

... 27° this October morning. The leaves in all of their fall glory have started to collect into piles of shimmering gold and burnt reds. The year seems to have sprinted into the autumn and now time has screeched into a startling halt, like the frozen crystals of dew on the rose buds in my garden, clenching my thoughts like two freight trains colliding. I should have expected the frost this morning as I walked through the streets of Manhattan yesterday afternoon. The crisp biting air, the cuddling softness of my favorite scarf, a deep jewel-toned turquoise that sets such a startling contrast to the fall colors around me that my sister knitted for me two Christmases ago...

I felt it then, remembered it then, whispering to me in that voice that we all hear but choose to ignore. I voiced it out loud yesterday as Heather and I walked through the bustling streets in the city and like a true friend does, dutifully ignored.

There are signs everywhere.

And then I awoke and heard the words, "There's frost this morning." I closed my eyes again and allowed myself to fall deeper under the warmth of the down comforter, hugged the cat closer to me as she grumbled her protest, and finally gave myself permission to remember...

My favorite season, autumn. The colors, the smells, the unexpected warmth found in the middle of all the promised chill. The beginning of a season of change, a magical transformation. A season of friendship, merriment, and family.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Things That Matter...

When I think of "Strawberries & Cream" I think about my favorite oatmeal growing up... As I child I know I had many plans and hopes for the future. This bracelet started off as a tutorial and ended up as a labor of love - the five aragonite flowers representing the following and the garnet flowers all of the love I have yet to give...

FAMILY – I can remember dozens of instances as a child (and even now as an adult) when my mother would say, “You don’t have to like me, you just have to love me.” Family is that connection that makes life worth living – a beginning and through the children I hope to have one day – never an end.

FRIENDS – Friends come into our lives for a reason, a season, or for life… Each one with their own purpose; a true blessing when you find that “kindred spirit” who’s love is unconditional – where you can be the most genuine version of yourself free of judgment and fear of loss – for a true friend weathers all of life’s storms and miracles.

– A soul mate can be friend, family, or loved one; deeper than the love of a friend and the required love of a family. A soul mate is that person who makes what’s broken whole again, brings joy when it aches, grants wishes before they’re made, and who wants nothing more than that which makes the other happy… A kind of love that can only be described as pure in heart, mind, body and soul…

- We are lucky in life to have just one love that stands the test of time. One who’s every detail is etched in your memory. A love that needs no words, filled with a passion that can’t be quenched and whose future is as plain as “clearwater”.

– Life is what happens while you’re busy planning it…
“Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That's what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too...” - Hope Floats

Here’s to many more scary beginnings…

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't put off for tomorrow...

...What you could get done today. When I was in high school I used to wake up before dawn to get my hair done like the "other girls;" with naturally wild curly hair and incredible volume, I of course wanted my hair straight! I remember sitting in front of the mirror with my arms extended painfully out to my farthest wing span blow drying and then ironically using the curling iron to ummmm... curl it again! Then I would sit with a notebook and pen in hand to start scribbling my daily list of "things to do." I was 14 when these lists began - my "day of details". I remember the frustration even then as I scribbled my almost minute by minute schedule of the projected events of the day. Even then I was an obsessive neurotic overachiever!

My mother found my stack of lists one day, each item painstakingly numbered by order of importance and then perfectly struck through in a thin black ink line - only black - never blue - all of my completed daily achievements.
(Now I use yellow highlighter to recognize my completed tasks 'cause I'm also a recognition whore.) She snatched them from me and yelled to remind me in case I had forgotten, "You're just a child! You don't have lists of things to do, or places you have to be, or cures for cancer you have to discover! Can't you just learn to just BE!"

I thought about this morning ritual I had half a lifetime ago as I awoke this morning to begin scribbling into my "List of things to do NOTEBOOK"... Not a lot has changed, well except for the yellow highlighter and the fact that you probably could not pay me to wake up early in the morning to do my hair, except that the list keeps getting longer no matter how many things I manage to highlight done.

Launching this business has become another infinite list of "daily details." Where should I post my designs? Should I learn that software program, create that other account? What do I do this morning that will net me the best results tomorrow?

Time management... The ultimate daily affirmation for the self-employed:

I use my time wisely and only do the most productive thing every minute of the day!

Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today... but what if there is never a tomorrow? Would I have chosen to do the same things today?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Must Assimilate!

After much internal conflict, I have succumbed to the pressures of creating a blogspot account and blogging! ☺

But when you're a type-A obsessive compulsive, control freak this opens up a brand new can of worms of decisions. Hair pulling debates on will this just be a business blog - and isn't my business a
PEOPLE business - I mean isn't one of the main reasons I am successful in business is because it's personal to me and therefor how can I draw the line between a personal blog and a business blog?

Will I be using this as a "dear vagina, why so blue?" journal or will I be using it like many of my very productive friends and teammates and fellow shoppe owners who feature one another, maybe a favorite recipe, a really cool product they came across...

And now with the ultimate assimilation to the world of blogging comes a whole NEW set of issues to battle in my already over cycling brain - will I now go back to mySpace and regurgitate my daily escapades for the enjoyment of post pubescent boys everywhere? And what for this Facebook? Will I now also rewind my years of climbing up the corporate ladder and join my executive almost-husband and schmooze with the likes of those closet "I hate my jobbers" in Linked In?

I "twit" but don't know what the hell to do with it after days of communicating with the twitting helpdesk, had quite the digs in mySpace until interstate authorities had to issue restraining orders to stalkers, was quite the IM master until honeycyberbots started taking over the airways...

But with the ever cheerful, positive, "I can do and succeed at everything I pursue" attitude, I will move forward with this new blogging venture ever eager to see what lies ahead and which path it will lead to... oh and by the way, that pic up there - my favorite design featured in my shoppe at - that's just in case tomorrow I wake up and decide this
is a business blog!

siempre - dorana