Monday, August 14, 2017


Sometimes we can find hope in the oddest places. Your LINK TO HOPE can be found in everyday life … you just have to keep your eyes open.  When you think you’re having a bad day, there is always someone having it tougher.  It is here we can find strength and inspiration, and it is also where we can find balance in our own perspective.
Such days happened to me that I will never forget – hope was found in the most unconventional way and it changed my life forever.
During El Nino 1997-1998 – rain hit pretty hard. I usually look at rain as a sign of good things to come, a cleansing of sorts not just for the psyche and spirit, but for the Earth as well.
I have two significant stories in my life revolving around rain. Rain taught me some amazing things and it is because of rain, I have been blessed with a cloudburst of beautiful life lessons. Let’s start with the first El Nino life lesson.
I was more fortunate than most, even though I did have a lot of damage from El Nino at the time.  The streets in the Valley were deceiving when they flooded…. You don’t know the water is going to go half-way up your car door until you are in the middle of an intersection you thought was only going to be a puddle.  You find out the hard way… and at that time, I did and it was expensive.
At that time I was given another whammy also sick with Pneumonia.  This was a tough time, because it was when I was told not to visit my mother anymore in the Alzheimer’s facility because my visitations upset her because she didn’t know who this ‘stranger’ was coming to visit her to talk with her.  It was heartbreaking for me to go from child-parent role reversal caring for her since I was fifteen at her earliest diagnosis, then having to surrender care to this place (granted, I was grateful for their care) and then ultimately I was forced to cut a different kind of mother/daughter umbilical cord in being orphaned altogether.
At the time, I also had two PR clients who had passed away, work was slowing down and I had a leak in my kitchen. I sat there with a 103 degree fever in my pajamas with pots and pans all over my kitchen- catching streams, I couldn’t have been more miserable. I also was having refrigerator problems and after calling (no joke) everyone in the yellow pages – no one was available to help me.  I dragged myself to Home Depot in this pathetic state determined to fix this darn thing myself, realizing it was a filter hose.  There was only one problem, I couldn’t move my refrigerator being weak at the time, it was kind of comical in a Will & Grace -Grace Adler sort of way. 
My garage was attached to a back alley where the windows looked out to the West. When it wasn’t raining, I could see the sun conclude each day, as it would set in the L.A. smog. It was also in this back alley I became familiar with someone I affectionately called, “Vogue Man.”
Elderly, somewhat frail, but simultaneously looking tough as nails, Vogue Man would always wave “hello” and “goodbye” to me as I would enter or exit my garage in the back alley during all my comings and goings. Sometimes when he was feeling playful, he would jump out in the middle of the alley and leap on the hood of my car spread eagle belly-flop style like a child in a swimming pool to scare the crap out of me and laugh endlessly at my expense of horror.

One day, I saw Vogue Man at the grocery store. I said ‘hello.’ He stopped his shopping cart to acknowledge me. When I asked him how he was –he shyly smiled and quickly darted his cart away, never speaking, just smiling. I happened to get a quick glance at his cart – filled with Jack Daniels, a carton of cigarettes and a jumbo pink box of éclairs. From all indications, life must’ve been pretty bad… but was THIS how he got through life… it was his shopping cart, his party and he owned it.

I do not know Vogue Man’s real name.  Even when I introduced myself being neighborly, he never gave it up even when I had asked.  He did not choose to engage in conversation, despite my attempts.  It was weird.  But I accepted his boundaries.  All I know is that he was elderly, lived alone and drove an old white truck. And every single day – he would indulge in his sinful habit of coming out in his baby blue polyester smoking pants, put his foot up on the front of his brick fence and  VOGUE… and ‘strike a pose’ as he lit a cigarette to take in his morning ‘smoke.’ This was a ritual…one where he had basked in the beginning or end of his day to just enjoy a peaceful moment while being outside.

Well, back to my rainy, crappy day sick and on my kitchen floor catching drips… I was watching the rain downpour. I felt sorry for my planter boxes. All my flowers were drowning, and my varieties of fresh basil which have been a lifetime constant companion… well, they appeared waterlogged.  Even my fresh pesto addiction go-to was failing me.
So dragging myself to go buy basil, since I couldn’t rely on my homegrown variety, I saw Vogue Man in front of his house hugging what appeared to be his son or some relative for a very long time.  That is all I saw.
When I came home got upstairs, unpacked my groceries and got closer to my window looking at my flooding balcony as the wind blowing and rain pounding – I saw Vogue Man. But he was NOT wearing his light blue polyester smoking pants! He was dancing outside, frolicking in the rain wearing brand new khaki Dockers. Vogue Man had new pants!  He was happy, celebrating life, in his victorious way. He did not care that he was getting rained on. He was merely celebrating… ‘the moment.’ And this moment was his alone and no rain could take that away from him or his new pants.

I tapped on the window to get his attention. He looked up at me and smiled the hugest smile. I gave him a ‘thumbs up’ and smiled back and he returned the gesture and continued to dance and spin in the rain. This moment was a priceless gift and a life lesson. And I filed it away in my mind and heart. I could only assume that this visitation he had from his son or relative was some sort of “peace” longtime coming from family discord of some sort.  He was a new man.
Did he even SEE the HOPE all that time he was striking his Vogue pose?
Did he give up HOPE when he had his survival grocery cart of his guilty pleasure coping sins?
He had HOPE NOW… and that is what mattered most.  Still cloudy on HOPE and why Vogue Man changed almost instantly? 
Watch the video below - you'll understand HOW HOPE can do that because he was not living in the place of expectation:

The next week, I was glad to be healthy again and the leaks in my roof were temporarily patched. And they were ‘holding’ in the kitchen. Exhausted from all the drama, I was happy to have my first ‘good night’s sleep’ in a long time.

And just as my alarm went off… I felt a drip on my nose. I looked up… my bedroom ceiling was now leaking. Ah … fantastic, just what I needed.

Karen Carpenter put it best ‘rainy days and Mondays always get me down.’ Well this day happened to be a Monday AND El Nino was hitting, I had a new leak. And though I was being ‘spiritual’ thinking of Vogue Man’s lesson to ‘celebrate the moment’ – I was going to celebrate this as one more thing that didn’t kill me, but made me stronger.  
During my life in Los Angeles, I was part of many women’s networking groups.  I was Vice President of Programming for American Women In Radio & Television, part of the National Association of Broadcasters - co-chair for the Genii Awards, a judge for the Gracie Allen Awards and professional mentor to seven college students in broadcasting at USC and UCLA.
A couple of weeks prior to this rainy Monday – I had initiated correspondence with the head of another women’s business organization. This woman agreed to meet with me in person to discuss power collaborations, one of my favorite things to do.  We had scheduled the meeting for this particular Monday and we were to meet for breakfast.

I was feeling sloth-like…(weeks of fatigue catching up with me) and even though I had a good night’s sleep, who could blame me for feeling like I did not want to get up out of bed, just to be in the middle of rush hour traffic to drive through flooded streets in this hardcore downpour of a rainstorm BEFORE breakfast?! Gads! Though, I was really wanting to meet this woman that I had spent time trying to network with.

But when I called to see if ‘the breakfast meeting was still on’ (people in L.A. are notoriously flakey and most often fashionably late, one of my major pet peeves) – to my shock, her words of strength, her attitude and demeanor were beyond what I was expecting her to say as she said “Oh it’s just a little rain – wear a raincoat, bring an umbrella – you have to eat anyway!”

So I dragged myself and put Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” voice in my head “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life – jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin,’ out on the streets and traffic starts jumpin….”

And then I arrived at our breakfast destination dripping but smiling. I saw her and we both shook off the water like ducks and started to chat.

Immediately when I met her – I was glued to her energy. She was vibrant and very generous with her conversation and thoughts. It was a great meeting. But business got quickly pushed aside and the conversation got personal – the connection was very psychic and her offerings seemed to be from the Heavens. It was like she was ‘the messenger’ of something very important she had to tell me.

She shared a story about her life, which I will not share here – as that is personal. But she was struggling during a very difficult period in her life. Her life was very stressful, her world filled with chaos, drama and very emotionally taxing times. She said that every day she would run around harried and frantic, just trying to cope.
THE LINK OF HOPE came from an unlikely place --- The gift came from a homeless woman who managed to scrounge up a soup can. The label was torn off of it. Earth’s great soil placed inside and propagation of a plant of some kind taking place. There was a very long, scraggly vine sans leaves, very long, windy, twisty – similar to a life’s journey. And on the very end of it a tiny flower with a yellow center and small, delicate white petals. No other blooms were in sight at all… just this one little, tiny bloom at the end of this homely, leafless vine.
And with it came a note that said “If this little flower can make it, so can you!”

She shared this story with me and it was if a whole truckload full of feelings were awakened inside me as I heard this story.  At that time, it was my hope, my oxygen to keep calm and carry on as the strong lone warrior in battle.

And the rainy season of El Nino made a huge difference in my life. One I’ll never forget. Between flower power over breakfast and Vogue Man dancing in the rain, I changed my outlook on life and haven’t turned back. So many things evolved from this.

This is what got me interested in plants once again….digging my hands in soil, being at one with the Earth and needing to do that to feel Zen in harried times. 

This is what inspired me to write my teacher Miss Leavitt I wrote about in YOUR LINK TO ALL OR NOTHING
and thank her for teaching me about propagation. It inspired me to take a Hip Hop dance class at my gym and reinvigorate movement in my life and letting my body be an extension of my expression. And yes, even I must occasionally update my wardrobe rain or shine for my spirit.

These two events reminded me… that will is stronger than anything, and nurturing one’s own garden in life (even if completely drenched)… will encourage growth no matter how challenged the conditions.

In the words written by John Fogerty for Creedence Clearwater Revival… I want to know… “Have YOU ever seen the rain?”

If you have, may you find all YOUR LINKS OF HOPE in every drop like I did.