New Beginnings

How will history weigh in on 2009, I wonder?

Will it be said that it was the best of times, it was the worst of times? Who knows. I do know this week has seemed to reflect a bit of that dichotomous sentiment.We went from a bittersweet MLKJ day - which proved to be the penultimate celebration and honour for an historic inauguration the next day, to THE day itself Tuesday, where we the people got to participate vicariously in the crowning of a new King, to resumption of doom and gloom headlines later on in the week - more corporate layoffs, more financial messes and quasi-confirmation of our darkest suspicions - that the Bush admin had been spying on members of the press corp and for that matter, on all Americans.

I know of two people laid off this week - Microsoft and L3 Communications. Truth be told, our precarious future hangs in the balance next month, with the advent of 2,400 Boeing contractor layoffs expected. While Holy Hub holds the vision that he might be one of the "lucky" ones not to be axed, on account of his impressive work ethic, aircraft expertise and dare I brag, impressive value he offers to his department, he also knows that when it comes sacrificial lambs in the slaughterhouse world of corporate excess and mismanagement, altruism and pragmaticism don't always win out. Things like union demands and small p-politics and image do, which is all a bunch of do-do, but there you have it.If there was method to the madness, I would get it. I've heard talk that some of these corporate layoffs are nothing more than a legitimate guise for corporations to clean house of deadweight.

In the case of Boeing, I could only wish. It angers me when I hear about employees who didn't bother to go into work for much of the latter part of December, when there was a skiff or two of snow on the ground. These same fraidy-cats would think nothing of playing hooky and taking off to the mountains to go skiing. Or when I hear about employees who rape the company listlessof every conceivable benefit, from sick days to doctor's appointments to mental health days, because it's their so-called God-given right. And let us not overlook the employees who surf the net all day. These are the very employees, the real deadweight, who will be above the law and overlooked come D-day next month. Meanwhile, the contractors, the ones brought in from allover the place to lend their talents and big P produce are the ones who will be ousted.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul in times of famine (which I argue wouldn't be quite so famine had it not been for the greed of the machinist's union last fall, but don't get me started). It's not even a win/win for the company. Because then they end up having to shuffle employees from group to group, thereby incurring increased training costs, and decreased productivity for a great long while. And then when sunnier days come again, these same employees jump ship back to whenst they came, leaving these departments and divisions high and dry, once again, and screaming for contractors who heard the cry wolf one too many times and might now say to Boeing, see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya.

But woulda coulda shoulda. Let it be. Corporate America will not get fixed on the wings of my whining. When push comes to shove, all life is trade-off. We traded safety and security a handful of years ago for this magic carpet ride called the contract world.All we can do is hold the vision. And update our resumes. I finally got my resume updated and I have to confess, I don't feel nearly so reluctant to send it out now. Sucks that my timing is a bit off. On the one hand, while I'm adament on choosing not to participate in this recession when it comes to job hunting - I'm also slightly amused that I picked a fine time to finally pound pavement in these parts. Oh well, it will only make the job-getting more sweet - knowing I had so much more competition.
Today's Career/Workplace section of the paper advocates a bit of workerbee brow-nosing. Not the annoying kind but the fine-line kind, wherein you document your successes, make your boss look good, hunker down uncomplainingly and work like mad.

Which is kind of sad. There are so many talented workers, who prefer nothing more than to stay below the radar, quietly going about their work whilst letting the bafoons and blowhards sing their own so-called praises. And likewise, there are so many hard workers in this country who exemplify hard work ethics and could teach the rest of us a thing or two about the guts and glory of contributing to a team and living the foundational values this country was built upon.

Speaking of which, I want to weigh in on the inauguration. I confess I got teary-eyed when they announced Obama was officially President whilst still sitting in his folding chair staring off into oblivion in those handful of minutes leading up to taking his botched oath (I so love failed performative utterances, especially an oath of office - let the mistakes be made upfront).Beyond the symbolism and the firsts and foremosts of the day (ie. shift in political ideology from fear to hope, first black President, first true pop-culture, greatest political orator in quite some time) ~ I have this inkling - a dancing in my bones, if you will - that the ushering in of Obamasignals much more than a mere partisan and color spectrum shift.

When I hear of Obama's insistence that the arts have been too long neglected in this nation, and of the grassroots (well OK, Quincy Jones) movement afoot to appoint a Secretary of the Arts) or when I hear Obama speak these words - my heart sings with an excitement that we might well be on the cusp of a new cultural and creative renaissance in this nation, and indeed the world:

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may
be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard workand honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of
progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these
truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility —a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties toourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

So while these may be the worst of times that recent history has brought us - economically, geo-politically and spiritually - they are also the best of times. I don't often (yeah, OK, never) steal pages from Celine Dion's songbooks, but I have to say, it does feel like a new day has dawned.

I looked back on a blog post from January 2007, when I offered up a little book review about a most-inspiring book I had just read - The Audacity of Hope - and it brings creative expression full-circle, somehow. In the crafting of that book, Obama new that he was launching the little engine that could dare to dream of one day soon becoming the next President of the United States of America.

Audacity is exactly what is needed. In said spirit, I have re-framed my 2009 theme that I blogged about earlier, from New Gold Dream to Truth or Dare: 2009 Holy Edition (Game On!).

I'm in the process of creating a number of Truth questions and Dare statements for myself that, in the course of the year, I will draw randomly from my Truth and Dare boxes each Monday morning. If I complete the tasks, I can choose another.

For example, a truth question might ask, "When was the last time you blah blah blah? (insert obscure activity here) Go do such and such this week." Similarly, a Dare card might prompt me to go do something just a little bit risque or out of my comfort zone. I re-rented Groundhog Day yesterday. Remember that movie? I'm reading (skimming) a book entitled Groundhog Day: Transform Your Life Day by Day -and he captures this dual-vision nicely. On the one hand, we have our daily, mundane lives which is so same-old, same-old as to make us vomit just thinking of meniality. And then we have this wishful thinking, what if? spirit inside us, that wants to chuck status quo to the cautionary winds and fly kites instead. My what if? spirit destructively emerges like clockwork once each month, wherein I flirt with taking a wrong turn out of the schoolyard and heading down the highway Thelma & Louise style.

Truth or Dare is a cheap and constructive enough thrill, I suspect, for me to marry my inner closet Thelma (or is it Louise?) with my inner Suburban Sally Sue.

So last night, I dared myself to go to the movies alone. I had never in my life sat in a movie theatre alone. It was a little disconcerting but at the same time, it was also a bit exhilerating. I went to see Slumdog Millionaire. It was a great movie - I highly recommend it and if, in fact, it wins Oscars, I would not be at all surprised. I now want to read the book, Q&A, which the screenplay was based on.

I'm not sure what I will truth or dare myself next week. My questions and provocations will be further categorized into areas of focus in my life - (ie. career, home, leisure, etc.). Anyhoo, it could make for an interesting year.


Wyeth Officially Famous Now

Andrew Wyeth died today. He is quite possibly the most brilliant artist this continent has ever seen, in my mind. I stand in awe at his work....he channeled the divine each and every time he placed brush to canvas.
His life and work was not without controversy but that will only make him larger than life in death. Same too might be said of the price of his paintings. Anyone, myself included, who didn't invest in his work prior to his death must be kicking him or herself now because in the spirit of supply and demand and guns and butter, his works will be worth infinitely more now.

Sad that one must die in order to come of age, artistically speaking.


Of Resolutions, Risk and Redux

On the nineth day of the new year, my true love gave to me, nine non-resolutions.

That's my song and I'm singing it. I hereby don't resolve in grand pontification to:

1) seek meaningful work
2) finish my book
3) shop my picture book manuscript
4) blast through unfinished home projects
5) lose weight
6) exercise more
7) eat heathier
8) live life with more reckless abandon
9) buy the world a home and furnish it with love

You see, I can't remember a January in recent New Years' past, where I haven't resolved in good faith, spirit and proclamatin to do something kick-ass and worthy. But then again, I can't remember a February in the past decade, where I wasn't also proverbially kicking my own ass for having ditched said lofty resolution in favour of newfound sloth and apathy.

I've had a few New Year's successes. Well, OK, maybe only one that I can think of. I quit smoking January 1, 1990. I still consider that to have been a most amazing accomplishment but the secret to my success was that I mentally afffirmed my intention and quit date with each puff, drag and inhale of each and every cigarette for two months leading up to my quit date. So imagine how many meditative inhalings of each cigarette that might work out to be and then multiple that by 25 and then again by about 60 and that equates to quite the bombardment of positive affirmations I was assailing in inner addict with.

This year, as per the one the last, I resolve to resolve daily. To wake up and begin each day anew with manageable bite-size resolutions that are apropos for a 24 hour period. Period.

Anyhoo, stay tuned for more on this next week, once I've done some visioning work (tomorrow) on the year ahead.