Tag Archives: Wisdom Wednesday

Weary Wonder Woman Withers ©

Wonder Woman, aka, Malati Marlene Shinazy 
wonder woman
Last week, BOBB’s publisher, my sister, wrote about our family’s long line of Wonder Women. She started with our great great grandmother who emigrated from Paris to San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
When Sister acknowledged she couldn’t juggle everything on her over-full plate, I was not unhappy.  Why?  I’ve always seen her as perfect and me as… well, not.
For background on this sibling-disorder, read my “Botox© To The Rescue” story:
I tentatively decided to take this opportunity to gloat a bit.
Here’s a partial history of this Wonder Woman’s accomplishments:
After college, I worked as my husband’s research assistant while he obtained his Ph.D. “So what’s the big deal?  Women do this all the time.”
Here’s the Big Deal: This 5th generation San Franciscan had to move to Philadelphia, schlepping my first-born.  Besides helping my husband, I found and furnished a home for us.  I sourced, purchased and renovated houses for a fledgling rental portfolio.  And, every winter I slipped and fell, sending my first-born air bound. Did the same when baby #2 arrived.
Just before Dad completed his degree, I began working full time and started grad school.  Picture this:
·         Working full time
·         Raising two smart, articulate, wild kids
·         Being a great business partner to my husband
·         Acting as general contractor for our rentals
·         Totally renovating our new home: built in 1911, 4,000 square feet, 3-stories
·         Staying up until 4:00 am to write research papers.  And…pregnant with baby #3!
Flash Forward
Returning to CA, Wonder Woman started a successful consulting and training company so she could be Super Mom.  I worked client meetings around driving kids to three different schools, ballet lessons, violin lessons, guitar lessons, soccer practice, soccer games, and camp.
When I wasn’t being taxi-mother, I was flying to client sites like Panama, as the US Government was turning over the canal to the Panamanian Government.
Flash Forward to Now
After a few years of working 13-hour days in corporate America, I am currently:
·         Re-launching the consulting business in another part of the state
·         Treasurer of the local Lions Club (service club)
·         Dating 25% of the non-incarcerated single men within a 50-mile radius…not as much fun as it sounds.
·         Working out regularly to keep myself fit and vain
·         Writing clever stories for BOBB
·         Administering thyroid medication to the cat twice daily
·         Conducting seasonal maintenance on my rental in the mountains
·         Skype-ing my “almost launched kids” at all hours
Yes, Sister, this Wonder Woman is on a roll.    
Until Yesterday:  I missed my Lion’s Club Treasurer Report deadline.  I slept straight through the morning alarm and was embarrassing late for a breakfast date.  And my right wrist started aching.
·         I seem to be unable to meet my commitments
·         I seem to be overly tired
·         I seem to be developing repetitive motion disorder

It seems this Wonder Woman is weary, too.
I take it all back, Sister.  We need a vacation and cortisone shot for my wrist.
photo by Arne Hendriks
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WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

My Grand Father was one of the most important people in my life.  He was the first man I loved and was my life teacher.  While other grandchildren called him Gramps or Granddaddy, I declared our loving attachment by providing him a designation of my choosing.  Only I would call him, “Grand Father.”

He had little formal education.  Instead, Grand Father had street smarts and tenacity.  He was a Merchant Marine during the war, then a Merchant Seaman.  He started from the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, bus boy, and rose to the level of Chief Stewart for international shipping companies.

When I was five years old, Grand Father taught me to read and write so we could correspond during the long months he was off to Hawaii, then Japan, then back again.  His letters were filled with encouragement and the unconditional love only a Grand Father could bestow his “Little Girl.”

Whenever I was fearful I couldn’t accomplish something, and some adult was suggesting I give up, Grand Father would gently scold me in a letter (gently, because he knew I cried easily),

             “ You don’t believe anything anyone else tells you. You are just as smart as everyone else, so you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Months at sea also meant months at home!  Grand Father and I had an exclusive four-note whistle salutation.  As I’d run through Nana’s kitchen asking where Grand Father was, I could hear his half of the greeting coming from outside.  Out I’d run to the top of the steps.  Stop.  Catch my Breath.  Then send my two notes.  We’d continue the volley of whistling until I located him.

Once found, I’d instantly help with whatever task was at hand.  When he’d be doing laundry, Grand Father would hand me an item of clothing from the washtub and I’d feed it through electric rollers which squeezed out excess water … before we hung it on the clothesline.

My habit was to push the hanky, sock, towel, etc., through the wringer too fast — which meant my fingers would be pulled in with the clothes and pinched between the rollers.  Fortunately, the dangerous hand-eating thing would suddenly pop open with a loud onerous sound, and stop.  Grand Father would patiently pat my smashed and reddened fingers, reminding me that I had to feed the beast slowly, carefully, and with attention not to get too close to the rollers.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up with gnarled, broken fingers, as inevitably five or six times in every wash cycle, I’d push something through without paying attention to impending danger… until:  “Owwwww!”  Pop!  Loud onerous sound!  And, stop!  Grand Father would give me the patient warning again – and hand me another sock.

Words and actions of unconditional love and encouragement … Grand Father would laugh if he knew how I continue to act as though I can achieve “anything I put my mind to,” despite my fingers getting pinched on occasion.

photo by Bob n Reneeand Molki

WISDOM Wednesday: Roommates

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
As a second born child, with three kids of my own, I like the energy of a house full of people (see previous story, “A Room of Her Own”).
My first roommates were my sisters.  In our room we each had a portable / movable closet, bed, desk and chair.  And, we had our own sofa.  We transformed the configuration of our huge bedroom to meet our regularly changing privacy needs. Sometimes it felt like we lived in three micro-studio apartments.  But, when we were done with homework, we’d invite our brother in and it was party time!
In college, as soon as I could move out of the dorm, I rented a house with four other unconventional like-minded students. We ranged in age from an 18 year old sophomore (me) to a second year microbiology Ph.D. student. We had private bedrooms where we spent most of our study time… And on weekends, it was party time!
Once my children left the nest, I had the opportunity to spend several years living alone. I have successfully learned to enjoy my own company, as all self-help books tell us we must do.  And, I unequivocally Do Not Like Living Alone
My house has a living room separating the master bedroom and its bath from the guest rooms and their bath. I decided to rent a guest room to re-experience another human being coming and going, and have extra cash flow… Sounded good on paper.
I quickly found a young man stationed at the local military camp looking for off-site housing. Immediately, my friends beset me with concerns:
1.    He might be a slob!
2.    He might stiff you on the rent!
3.    He might annoy you and you’ll never be able to get him out!
4.    He might be a mass-murderer!
With a little due diligence, I determined he was not a mass-murderer. Everything else, I’d deal with after he moved in.
The first few weeks with a roommate were not instantly comfortable…
Turns out it’s against my nature to just rent out a room.  I felt bad each time he’d return in the evening and “go to his room.” So, I urged him, “Please, make this your home away from home.”
     > Before long, if one of us made a pot of coffee before dashing to work, we’d leave a note: “Free Coffee.” 
     > When he left all the garage lights on for 48 hours, I requested he mow the lawn – A penalty his wife agreed was appropriate 😉
     > And, the skittish, suspicious-of-everyone cat purred incessantly on the rare occasion my roommate and I watched a movie together.
I never did experience any of the worries my friends enumerated and was genuinely sad when he announced his new promotion included moving away.

I thoroughly enjoyed living with my roommate. Although days or weeks would pass without seeing each other, whenever I came home, it felt like home, not just “house.”

Time to find a new roommate… mass-murderers who are annoying slobs need not apply.
photo by SFC Jose “Joe” Garcia
California Army National Guard

WISDOM Wednesday: Helpful Horoscopes

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy
Nancy and Ronald Regan knew there were specific astrological elements they needed to consider before they could make appointments, sign laws, run for president, etc. Before they scheduled the Geneva Summit to talk to the Russians, they made sure it was going to happen at an astrologically auspicious time.
Have you ever had a horoscope that wasn’t exactly, spot-on accurate?
Me either. They always seem to fit enough that I can claim, “Yes, indeed; it was just like that, yesterday.”
But I’m not sure I have Reaganesque confidence that my life is fatalistic — left in the hands of forces ruled by exalted planets, the degree of favorable or difficult aspects, strong angular houses, or succedent or cadent houses, or the relationship between my ascendant and the mid-heaven at the moment of my birth.
Still, on occasion, before my birthday I check my horoscope to make sure I’m ready for whatever it is that’s going to happen the next year.
Ready or Not, Here It Comes.
But, because I’m a Sagittarius, with a Sagittarius rising and moon in Scorpio, every year is projected to be a fabulous year. That, I’m ready for, happy for, believe in….
“Yes, indeed, it’s going to be another great year; my chart says so.”
But I’ve got a nagging question. Why was my astrological chart so reticent during the horrible years, the years when:
1.    My boyfriend left me, or
2.    I got laid off from my job, or
3.    I rear-end an old lady driving a Cadillac, or
4.    The hose from my washing machine burst, thereby flooding the laundry room, guest bathroom and living room – only then to have a gushing interior river follow the laws of gravity down through the heating ducts, across the insulation and into the furnace, causing an electrical short that nearly burned the house down?
My goodness, having some kind of astrological portent would have been helpful on any one of those year.
Had I any indication at all I could have:
1.    Minimized my heartbreak by ditching the boyfriend before he dumped me
2.    Minimized my precipitous plummet into near-poverty by getting a second and third job before losing the first one… Or perhaps replacing the ditched boyfriend with a “Sugar Daddy”
3.    Minimized my obscene out-of-pocket expense in that rear-ender by reducing my auto insurance deductible… or at least learned the fine art of hit-and-run
4.    Sold the house before the hose burst!
I’d be right by the Regan’s astrological side if a horoscope had given me a real “Heads Up, Get Ready, Girl” – so I could side-step or at least buffer some of those challenging years. 
I’d really be a believer if my horoscope instructed me to move my S&P 500 stocks into gold 18 months before I needed to!
I’m ready to believe.  I want to believe.  I want to follow Nancy Regan’s carefully planned timetable for ensuring world peace.  But someone needs to figure out how to adjust the sextile, quadrant, and decan to tell me something other than,
“Hey, you’re a Sag. You always have a great year. Happy Birthday.”
photo by Vectorportal


WISDOM Wednesday: Paying Attention !!

A story by Malati Marlene Shinazy
This was an evening made for paying attention.

I met my new fellow at a favorite restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We timed it so we could watch the sun set. I wasn’t just paying attention; my eyes were riveted to the horizon … Abundant clouds held onto the orange-to peach-to pale pink sky for quite some time after the sun disappeared.

Dinner followed. If you love love crab cakes like I do, you pay attention to whether or not they have a lot of fillers – or do they taste perhaps, like crab, as crab cakes should. These did, so I savored every bite.

No need to write about the entrée. It was flawlessly delicious, as expected.

Dessert – My favorite part of any meal, was a rich chocolate mouse, drizzled with dark chocolate syrup. My palate was at full attention. And, since my date was attentive to every smiling bite, I ate extra carefully.
My date – This man was so gorgeous.  Sitting across the table, he was a visual dessert.  It was a challenge to pay attention to my dessert and not drool – over the man, not the chocolate mouse.

He and I chatted and gazed at each other for another 2-1/2 hours. Finally, though, time to depart… workday tomorrow.  No quick hugs tonight; these were romance novel kisses – Now I was paying attention to how perfectly he kissed and how perfectly I felt in his arms…

After scheduling our next date, I got into my new car.

New cars require paying attention too.  I needed to adjust the seat a little forward, a little higher, a little more tilt, a little more recline. Finally, it was ready — A farewell wave to my dessert-man and I was off.

The road homeward is two-lane country highway. It undulates an ascent from sea level through the vineyards and pastures, eventually emerging at town’s edge.  With no moon and or traffic that night, it was totally dark. I leisurely enjoyed the drive, replaying the perfect evening in my mind –
day-dreaming in the night.

A single second later, however, Lights and Sirens make a swift U-turn behind me… Screaming onto me like I was driving an armed-robbery getaway car.  I pulled over anywhere, rolled down the window, put on my game face.

“Mam, do you know how fast you were going?”

I made up a reasonable sounding speed… paying attention not to sound guilty.

“No mam; I clocked you at 85 miles per hour, 30 miles over the speed limit.”

I so wanted to argue with the officer, but I knew in the pit of my stomach he was probably right.  I drove away with a $350 citation, traffic school and a probable insurance rate hike… 

If I hadn’t been paying attention earlier in my drive, I sure was now.
photo by Lel4nd

WISDOM Wednesday: Whitney Houston – Inspired Contemplation

A  tribute written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

When I first heard Whitney Houston had died, I fleetingly thought, “Sad, another amazing talent has fallen to drugs.”  I had no evidence to support that thought.  I actually had no information at all.
Over the next 24 hours, however, my sadness deepened as I was deluged with non-stop broadcasts describing how her death impacted the music community, her family and fans … her vocal range and tonal purity and her struggle with drugs.
I decided to examine why I had such strong feelings over the death of a celebrity I didn’t even know.
Yes, “The Body Guard” is a favorite film.  Yes, years ago I downloaded most of her music.
Somehow, though, I my feelings related to Whitney Houston, The Person.  On the surface, our lives shared no semblance.  She was a singularly talented artist, a recovering addict, and a celebrity.
One layer deeper however, on the level of Person, she resembled many of us.  Her life was one of great capacity and noble challenges.  She was resilient.  She possessed unstoppable passion for her work and family.
We have lost a great talent – a younger member of our boomer generation.  So, how does that relate to me?  What have I gained from my exercise in contemplation?
Like Whitney Houston and many of us boomers, at all stages of the age spectrum, I see my life continuing to expand and deepen …Life is simultaneously more profound and joyous … serious and silly.
  • The passion I have about my new business is more exhilarating than businesses I’ve launched in the past.

  • My love is more than my heart opening.  It is multi-dimensional and felt at my core of my being.

  • My community service is not simply a cluster of activities I “do.”  It is an integral part of me, who I “am.”

  • My role as a mom, one I took seriously when my kids were young and actively needed me, has changed too.  I truly feel privileged when my young-adults ask for counsel or share a confidence.

Whitney Houston’s life gave me moments of song and tidbits of celebrity gossip.  In my contemplation of how I felt about her passing, I realized how wonderful it is to be fully engaged in life … 
Laughing, Crying, Loving and Sharing Wisdom with each other
Plus, I have this assignment to write stories for WISDOM WEDNESDAY – a forum for voicing all sorts of perception and insight.  It provides me an opportunity to continue to grow and learn from people everywhere – from folks of any age, culture, or rank in life.  Now how cool is that?  I get to be both sage and student.

Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012)
Singer, Actress, Mom and Person

  photo by Nathan B

WISDOM Wednesday: “The Great Squirrel Wars”

  This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
This is a true story… I have to tell it. Of course I changed the names — I treasure my friendships, all of them. — ms
“So, you think tree squirrels are beautiful?” exclaimed Jim to Walt and me over coffee. “Well, a bunch of them live in the pine trees in my back yard.”
(As he became more animated, I started to pay attention… this is going to be an interesting story.)
He continues, sputtering, almost in one breath:

“I hate these squirrels! They come scuttling down the utility wires and jump into my trees.  Now these aren’t little trees, they’re 60 feet tall! They’re the most beautiful pine trees in the neighborhood. So yesterday, I went to the sporting goods store and spent $200 on a pellet gun.”

(‘Please, please, NO’, I say to myself… I know where this story is going and I’m not sure I really want to hear the rest of it.)
“Those squirrels. You know what they do, don’t you? They go up into my trees, sit up there, pull off the green pinecones and shred them with their teeth to get to the seeds.”
(Are these the seeds we city folks call pine nuts?  I had to ask him to tell me more.)
“So, they sit up there, these squirrels, shredding the pinecones to get to the seeds, which are inside something that looks like an apple core. Stuff showers off the pinecones onto my driveway, sidewalk and front porch. I’m sweeping two to three times a day.”
“I hate it. I had to buy an extra-heavy duty broom too.”
“Plus, every year, I hire a pruning guy to thin out the trees. I tell him, ‘Don’t come down until you’ve taken off EVERY pinecone!’ This costs me $1500 bucks. … If I skip a year, those squirrels come back, the shredding comes back and the sweeping comes back.”
“Today, I sat out there on a lawn chair in the front yard, waiting for them to be visible up there in those trees.”
(A new image pops into my head. Guerrilla warfare: Man vs. Squirrel.)
“I’m waiting out there with my pellet gun, waiting for them to be visible, which they never are….  They just sit up there yacking at me. I can never see them. They’re up there laughing!”
My other friend, Walt, is now tallying the cost of this battle:
  • Pruning, $1500
  • Heavy-duty broom, $50 plus tax
  • Pellet gun, $200
  • If the police hear:
  • Time in jail
  • Bail to get out of jail
  • Court fees
  • Attorney fee
  • Huge fine
“It’s getting a bit expensive”, he laughs…
(Jim’s account of The Great Squirrel Wars is at once hilariously funny and a tad crazy, I think… I use to rake leaves daily for months every autumn. How can this squirrel stuff be any worse? What’s the big deal? … Although the situation is clearly exasperating for him, he’s enjoying the telling and I’m enjoying his sincere narration.)
(Verbally stumbling with laughter, I naively ask some variation of a line from Mars Attacks!  “So why can’t you all just get along?”)
His response, “Because they don’t sweep and clean up after themselves!”
(I sit there, more than a bit perplexed. I truly have nothing to say… I suddenly realize — I really don’t understand war at all.)

–  –  –  –  –
All of our animal friends remain safe and happy. ~ shinazy (BOBB’s founder)

photo by Gilles Gonthier

WISDOM Wednesday: “What’s So Great About Mentoring?”

 This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
I read once that successful people have at least one mentor in their career.  Sounded like a great formula: Get a mentor; become successful. So, when I was a young boomer, I went hunting for a mentor.
George F. Simons is an expert in the field of diversity and cross-cultural communication. His list of accomplishments is long and impressive. By the time I met him, he had written books, developed award winning training games, taught at universities and had a thriving international consulting and training practice.
As is typical for me, I just called him up and asked if he would be my mentor. I was thoroughly shocked when he agreed so readily. He had but one requirement: I make a commitment to myself and to the field of diversity to learn everything he had to offer. What I didn’t realize at the time was, he was offering to share with me literally everything he knew.
Each day for an entire summer, I drove two hours round trip over a notoriously twisty mountain highway to spend time with him. I absorbed all the information, knowledge and nuances of insight I could… The experience was simultaneously thrilling and formidable.
 And, I swear… I grew from a newbie into a junior expert in just a few months. This one change in my life had to be the reason: George was mentoring me.
When I decided I was ready to strike out on my own, I put into practice everything George taught me… Voila, I became successful too. — Actually, I was more than a bit amazed. Could it be the mentoring? I thought so at the time. Now, I know so…
A few years ago, with a new job, I inherited a millennial generation employee who was, I was told, “like a sponge,” continually soaking up information to grow professionally.
Ah – ha, I thought… You know where this story is going, right?  What did this woman need to boost her to the next level of success?  Yup, mentoring.
So, as we now know is typical for me, I just plunged in and asked Nikie if I could be her mentor. She quickly agreed, as George had done so many years prior.
For the next two years, I shared all the knowledge I had about the field of learning and workforce development, including cross-cultural aspects, metrics, project management… I mean, everything. I shared what I knew about the industry in which we worked, economic cycles, key success factors to competitive advantage and corporate cultures. Everything.
Mentoring became one of the favorite aspects of my job. I watched Nikie develop from a young professional into a seasoned pro who could take each project offered and run with it to successful completion.
Mentoring grew me. And now, mentoring was growing another individual. When Nikie told me she was looking for a new job, I was thrilled. She was ready to strike out on her own… as I had decades ago.
Over the years, George, my mentor, became a valued life-long friend. Yesterday, he left for his home in France to write another book.
Tomorrow, my mentee leaves for her next career step… We promise to communicate regularly.
How wonderful it will be when one day I hear Nikie is mentoring someone too.
What’s So Great About Mentoring? For me… Everything!

"A Room of My Own?” Part Two

  This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

. . .  Part Two . . .

I never had what could be called a room of one’s own. I use to feel cheated by this.
When I was a young, accomplished, award-winning seamstress, the only space in which I could work was my family’s living room. I would spread out my patterns, fabrics  (yards and yards of wools, satins, velvets) scissors and pins across the living room floor. When the cutting was complete, I’d gather all the myriad pieces of a soon-to-be evening gown, cocktail dress or coat into a careful pile, carry it away in a box and clean the room for public use. I’d transport it all to the sewing machine in my mother’s room; sew for a few hours then, clean up again. I’d store all stages of my sewing projects on the foot of my bed; drag it out again, day after day, until the project was done.
I loved the time I had no room but a house full of kids. They were everywhere; their stuff was everywhere; their friends were everywhere. Oh yes, their cats, dogs, bunnies and birds were everywhere also.
I was there too, without the coveted room of one’s own. When they were very young, their dad and I often had to leave the master bedroom because the bed was filled with our kids. Dad had a great idea, however, and built small beds at the foot and sides of the master bed so each child could be near us, but in their own “nest.”  …. Nope, this was definitely not a room of one’s own.
As the kids got older, although their dad and I divorced, we decided to have one house in which the kids would live. He and I would come and go. The kids wouldn’t have to schlep their stuff back and forth to each parent’s house on odd weekdays or alternate weekends. The divorced parents rotated, not the kids. Their environment remained stable for them…. Oh yes, when I vacated the house every other weekend and Dad came in, I’d empty “my” room and he’d take over…. Yes indeed, still, no room of one’s own.
Now my kids are grown. I have not just a room of one’s own. I have an entire house. I even have my own master bedroom with attached bathroom. I don’t share any room with anyone… At last, what I thought I always wanted has come to fruition. I have the ever-desired room of one’s own! Actually, I have lots and lots of rooms of my own!
But wait…. I recently realized something is missing… I only had to ask myself once, “What is missing?” The answer came quickly. What is missing is the family of my youth, with sisters and brothers tumbling around the rooms like puppies falling out of a basket. The family of my adulthood is missing too: kids and kids’ friends, pets, activity, noise, music, barking, laughter, giggling, phones constantly ringing. Did I miss anything? Probably… there’s a lot missing.
What I thought was so important all my life, a room of one’s own, is not actually something I want after all.  For me, all this space leaves a void. I don’t really care for it. Not one little bit.
I’ve decided, Ii’s time for me to fill up the void with new pets and small clusters of friends. Also, whenever possible (not just on holidays), I’m going to invite over my brother and sister. And, although they are scattered all over the world, I’m going to create new traditions so my almost-launched kids, and their friends, come over for gatherings — filling the rooms with familiar laughter, chatting, and witty interchange.
For me, a room full of love and energy is much more satisfying than a room of one’s own.