Membership has its Privileges | Phoenix Art Museum Membership After Hours

Do you have a city ritual or space you go to with a regularity bordering on Mass? Hands down, one of my favorite spaces in the city is Phoenix Art Museum. Searching for ways to lower my tax liability, I have been maintaining a Phoenix Art Museum membership for a number of years.

My fanaticism of the museum ultimately led to me joining WoMAC, the Women’s Metropolitan Art Council. I care deeply about supporting causes and organizations that are important to me. Joining WoMAC is a way for me to strengthen my support for this gem.

I often find myself running in for an hour, or less, on a hot Sunday afternoon. One thing I like to do is dash in and spend some moments reflecting in front of a favorite piece. Say “hello” to Frida, study the latest fashion exhibit the curator designed….

Upside Down, Inside Out

From my favorite Anish Kapoor to delightful modern and contemporary gems most Phoenicians don’t realize we have, PAM is a fantastic way to spend some time in my day, or as with the other night, to create my own night at the museum.

One day I will be in Chicago long enough to visit Cloud Gate — that likely requires going to Chi Town for something other than business-only. Until then, I satisfy myself to take nuanced selfies in front of Upside Down, Inside Out, the glossy black sculpture in the main hall.

There’s some feeling just the other side of “whoa” when walking through great halls of nearly vacant museums that makes me feel as though I’m trespassing with my partner, and even among friends.

We loitered in the Contemporary Gallery after a party with a hushed reverence as if we are doing something naughty and oughtn’t be allowed.

What is your favorite city space?

XO, Jennifer
Phoenix Art Museum Membership My Own True North

Scary Beautiful | A Haunting Examination of Standards of Beauty
This video is a powerful and interesting commentary on current standards of beauty. 
Haunting. Grotesque. Beautiful. Scary.
Current plastic surgery trends and searches are up for fat loss, face fillers, and immediate gratification for improved physical appearances. I don’t even know how much money we spend in the beauty industry, and I actually don’t want to know. It’s high, no doubt about that.

I’ve never liked the shape of my body.

A true pear, even when fitting in size 27 jeans (although not since turning 30), and vigorously training six days a week, my legs have always been large. Especially my calves. I envied women who wore skinny boots that did not require zippers and a little bit of stretch. I hate my knees. Never show them. Which is pretty silly!
As I become more aware of how I allow external messaging to affect what I think about myself I am starting to change the stories I tell myself. Especially about how I look. We are so much more than how we look. Yet, we ascribe massive value to shape, size, and look.
What are the beauty judgments you hold for yourself?
XO, Jennifer
haunting view standards of beauty my own true north

Not to Make New Year’s Resolutions but to Form Objectives for the Year

One of the reasons I enjoy the friendship of a certain charming French fellow I met on a blind date this summer is his exquisite accent. I won’t bat an eyelash and pretend I don’t soak up his lyrical speech like a good bread does olive oil, nor will I deny that I am charmed by his definitely NOT Made in America manners and gentlemanly chivalry and generosity. I appreciate his intelligence and his perspective (and a sense of humor that just cannot be beat… again, NOT Made in America). And it is these two things that make me appreciate his company so much.

We were having dinner together the night before I flew out to Kansas to spend the holiday with my mom. We were discussing holiday plans and New Year’s Resolutions. Charming Frenchie stated that he doesn’t subscribe to the notion of resolutions, but instead, he forms objectives.

Oh, ho, hmm, now let’s see. And so I went along with the conversation, because the guy is well thought and spoken, and I liked what he was saying. And so, my objectives for my new year include the reasons why and what I will not gain if I choose to not follow through.

1. No texting while driving.

I KNOW. That’s why it’s listed as my Number One. Not only is it illegal in Phoenix, if a conversation is facilitated by text, then that is not an important conversation. It is certainly not a conversation of such importance that it is worth endangering my personal safety and my property nor the personal safety and property of others. It is a horrible habit and it needs to die.

2. Judge less and forgive more.

I consider myself a mostly open-minded and relative person. But, I can still be a thoroughly and mightily self-righteous and judgmental, little bitch (and, for the record, I hate this word; I think it is among the most disrespectful words used to describe a woman; I hate it). People have their own motivations for their actions. And, let’s face it: people sometimes just make bad decisions. For those, I am in no position to cast any stones. And, so, I will also be mindful for this objective to be less judgmental of and more forgiving to the person who is in the most need of my grace. Myself.

3. Stop making excuses.

I find empowerment in ownership. Sometimes, that perspective is really hard! Sometimes, I can go off balance and venture a little to the extreme end of taking ownership and I take on too much onus, thereby creating excuses and letting someone else off the hook of responsibility. My objective is to own what is mine, and let the other person/people do what they will with that part of responsibility.

While we’re on the subject of no more excuses, no more excuses in my practice!

new year's resolutions My experience and skill with yoga is beyond the point for me to still be afraid of inversions. No more inversion aversion! In 2012, I will rock the inversions: headstand, forearm stand, handstand. I will get out of my head and stand with my feet above my head, once and for all.

4. I will eat more veggies and eat less meat.

I did just put that in writing. I won’t abandon my carnivorous ways entirely. I am still convinced I was a T-Rex in a former lifetime… “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” Get it? No? Think about a T-Rex… “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” Get it? Yes!!!!!

Here’s the deal why this objective is so important for me (closet open, meet skeletons). Diabetes runs in my dad’s family. His mom developed Type II Diabetes; she also had multiple strokes. Cancer is in my mom’s family.

It may be a freak, silver-bullet type of coincidence that my dad and my brother both have “chronic, progressive Multiple Sclerosis.” BUT, I really don’t think so. And so, when I asked myself the question about why have I been taking chances with my health by not better nurturing my body through what I eat, I couldn’t come up with an answer good enough for me to not seriously consider making some changes to that part of my lifestyle. I may and I may not have the genetic coding to predispose me to any of these diseases that could trigger at any time, running rogue through my DNA. I may and I may not. That’s how genetic inheritance works.

But why take the chance? I won’t hike Humphrey’s Peak during a monsoon season because I know that kind of exposure puts me at risk to be struck by lightening. After seeing, this past year (talking 2011, friends), my beloved grandfather – my Pere Pere – succumb to cancer, observing my aunt’s continuous struggle with her addiction to food and her compromised life from her morbid obesity, but most of all, participating in my dad’s and my brother’s battles with the fear monger, MS, my healthful arrogance has shamed me.

Especially, when I know I have got to get my stress management under control. A doctor’s physical exam would show results that ace every test (except for stress). But, how long will that health last? So, with my own challenges to deal with my own poor stress management, I can do my beautiful and healthy body better by eating (and drinking) better. Less cows, less cheese, and more alkaline-rich food to help me stay stronger and healthier for longer.

So, my resolutions probably would have looked something like this:

Drive safer; be nicer; do handstands; eat less sugar.

My objectives spell out for me what the accomplishment and purpose is so I can remember the why when I carry out the what.

What are your objectives for the coming year?


New Year’s Day Reflections on 2011
The ball just dropped in Times Square. I don’t know if I’ll make it up to midnight CST. Aaaah, Kansas… and legal fireworks. Charlee, the chihuahua, is in a panicked snit. Out with the old. So to begin the new year’s day reflections from 2011.

If I had to sum up this year in a word, my word for 2011 would be Surrender.

Actually, maybe two words. Surrender Into.

At the end of my rope? Dangling like a worm on a hook? Death grip holding on for dear life?

Not this year.

Relaxing into the pendulum’s swinging after I emotionally survived the free fall feeling from my tethered position 30 feet above the desert floor, knowing that I, alone, held onto the rope keeping me securely fastened to the pulley up top, but for me to get back on the ground, where I really wanted to be – rather than up in the air – I had to let go. And when letting go of that rope and falling freely, consider what emotional ties I wanted to let go of as well. Damn Miraval and their cleverly appropriate challenges! When can I go again?

The holiday season brings me additional opportunity for reflection with the compounding factors of approaching a calendar year milestone and a personal milestone (in other words, my birthday, yech). I can not only look back at a single year, I can reflect on an entire age. 

For 2011, I wanted a better year than 2010. In 2011, I started to understand what it really means to gain wisdom. To me, wisdom is not rote knowledge, but knowledge gained through reflection following experience.I still don’t know much in terms of worldly shit, but I paid a lot more attention to myself and to my pain points and triggers; I learned. I still have a long way to go, but babes, you better believe I know a whole lot more than I did this time last year.

I started this year challenging some of my beliefs and perceptions; the short time I spent at Miraval helped me examine fears and actions motivated by fear. I gave myself permission to grieve and let go of ideas that would only continue to hold me back from being happy.

I had the courage to face letting go of Chloe, and for the first time, experienced the full scope of responsibility of another living creature. Her life circle had come to its end, and I had the hard decision to let her pass painlessly and in my arms.

They say that love finds you when you aren’t looking for it. This year, I found that cliche to be true. Quite unexpectedly, and most delightedly, I found love, or maybe it found me. Although that ended sooner than I wanted, rather than remain so sad and angry to have lost what I felt and experienced the months I was with Guy, I choose to be grateful I had any time with him at all. The gift was for me to be excited about a man again, for me to trust a man again, and to fall in love.

Because here’s the thing: it wasn’t about what I was getting – it was about what I gave, that I gave… and I gave willingly.

The greatest gift was the most bittersweet gift, and that was for me to make a stand for what I believe I’m worth and to speak up for what I want at the highest level of my dream for a fulfilled life. There is no place where Guy wanted to fit in that, and so a square peg was not going to be force fit into a round hole.

My Pere-pere died, following a courageous battle with brain cancer. I was able to say goodbye to him last fall. I went back to New England to honor his death and celebrate the gifts he brought all of us through his life.

Montana was the place of reconnecting with old friends while forming new friendships, too. There is so much power to the collective female spirit. When women come together with a similar intention and focus, the combined energy is healing, invigorating, and inspiring. Saying goodbye to one friend whose wisdom and energy was so soothing to me, she reminded me that when we hug, to lean to the left, that way our hearts can touch.

I articulated my dissertation topic and introduced my hypothesis to members of the higher education community. I took a chance and submitted a request to present a formal discussion of my hypothesis and provide the rationale to justify my research: my request was accepted and I began the exciting and intimidating process of refining my research to form a presentation at a national conference in March. The message to me is that people want to hear what I have to say. I need to move forward with the confidence in myself that others have already expressed they have in me.

This year had significant disappointments and losses. But, I was stronger and less fearful than I was last year. This year was particularly emotional. But, I was more able to accept the vulnerability and rawness of validating my own experiences and feelings. And so, I believe 2012 will be even better than 2011. I believe that 2012 will bring me challenges. I believe I will be sad and angry at points during the year. I believe the good times will be greater in quantity and quality than any time bringing angst.

I’m sending you warm wishes for your year and wishes for warm hearts. Happy New Year!


Murmuration Rather Than Murder

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

(created and posted by Sophie Clive Windsor)

Simply an amazing and beautiful beginning to the beginning of my week, and the end of my weekend. I’ve seen this video still on an e-magazine for over a month, now, and finally decided to check out what the “holy wow” was all about.

A flock of crows is called a murder. I am seeing so much red right now in the wake of a person’s disrespectful stupidity. I think channeling my focus instead to a beautiful murmuration will help me to remember to focus on people who seek to spend time with me to build me up, not act in passive aggression.

It’s just incredible to me, how sometimes it takes me some time to pick up a piece of writing, hear a song, or see something visual that has been in front of me for a long while… The moment I choose to see, hear, or read that piece, it gives me a message so profound to me, it feels as if that moment was designed for me.