Thursday, March 14, 2013

What sus-STAINS me...

I’m beginning to believe that trials have and always will be a normal thing, and we should not gasp when they arrive. We are far too anxious about trying to keep them from happening, as though these transitions are intruders, and not simply the companions of consciousness. Life is not a neat little folded napkin that is meant to display crisp edges, and no stains. It seems to revel in being soiled with the proof of us; messy and colorful and all crumpled randomly. The resulting patterns are the tattoos of mortality, with the ink of wisdom in each prickly dot. 
Networking, Women and Wine invites you to join us on March 27, 2013, at New World Olive Oil in Charlotte, NC. for discussions on Transitions, forgiveness, and how to reconcile the two.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A New Path and A New Year

It's dark and cold in the winter, making it easy to hide. And while the trees are barren and the brown twigs seem quiet and alone, the leaves of spring can still be imagined. They hide among the gentle secrets of the future, and we know they are there, somewhere, waiting until the right time to return.

And so it has been with me for the last two months.

You may have wondered where I have been hiding, and whether or not I would return. But when a door in the floor appears, and you’re not looking, you will most likely fall into it. When you finally reach your arms out, to catch a notch in the wall, or hear a friend whose voice echoes in the whoosh of the air going by, you start to understand that you can stop the fall. Just put your feet out and touch the ground.

2013 began with a series of adventures, the short story to be shared here so you can get a feel for why I lost my balance, and more importantly, add your heart to it by knowing that if you are experiencing your own transition that we can do it together.

On December 29th, while vacationing in Naples, FL, we learned my father in law had taken a fall and had broken his hip. Knowing he must get to Las Vegas, NV to help, my husband spent 20 hours traveling, sleeping in airports, and dashing to reserve the last rental car, to be by his side. His mother has dementia and his father, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, never made it out of the hospital, dying in his own time two weeks later of sheer exhaustion, at the age of 88. His parents lived 60 years together holding hands, 61 years ballroom dancing, all the time creating a world that only included the two of them, never really imagining it would be any different if love and will were any consequence. But everything changed that fateful Saturday, and it changed for us as well.

Jean, my mother in law, unable to live alone, now lives with us. She arrived on January 31st to a place where trees are everywhere, and sand is not, where rain falls every three days instead of every three months. But most importantly, she is in a place without her husband, her home or her routine. On some days, she can’t tell time, or remember how to use a zipper, or explain why something doesn’t feel quite right. But she knows she misses her sweetheart, and she knows soon she will not remember anything.

She is good company. She is small, frail and full of wit and humor, and even though sarcasm is often a foreign idea, she can still laugh at a good joke and defend herself against those who would pity her. And for the time being, the place for her is with us, in our home, and we are blessed to be an extended family for a time. As her new caretakers, we will watch her each day as she leaves more memories behind, offering in its stead, light, warmth and for love.

And now you know how the door in the floor opened for us and changed everything.

You will forgive me for entitling this year, “The Year of Transitions,” since it serves my needs so perfectly. But when prompted with the title, it occurred to me how much it fits us all. It is for two reasons. I know I will be buoyed by sharing this with you, and I know you have transitions that you must endure as well. Won’t it be easier if we do them together? Doesn’t it make more sense to share and connect during all of these changes?

To sum it up, I have realized something. And it gives me peace. Change is not life veering off its path, it is the path. Walk it with me in the moment, in 2013. Our first meeting will be in March, and we will celebrate Spring together!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Courage to Connect to All Strength

I walked in the mist this morning, carrying my arms stiffly against the wind, my fingers curled tightly around the cuff of my shirt to keep the breeze from darting up my arm, and thinking dang hard for a good reason to be up just after dawn and freezing to death. With Pandora blaring through my earphones and Tears for Fears shouting "Everybody Wants to Rule the World!" I thought this might be a good time to wake up and get with the task at hand.

'It's time to share my final message for the year and close out 2012, The Year of Courage,' I mused.But what is the right message? I want to share something that isn't trivial or covered in sugary stickiness, or tangled with ribbons and bows, and reeking of pine cones and hot glue...Then I found it.

As I changed my gait to account for the small grade that leads up to a bridge, I looked up to see a barren tree. Well, almost barren. One, lone, tiny red leaf was clinging bravely to the lowest branch like the last drip of sap on a weary maple. Although I hated to slow my pace (heart rate is key to calorie burning you know...) I came to a stop and thought about the strength this little guy demonstrated. It would have been fine for him to fall below and become entangled in the pine straw with so many other autumn carcasses. No one would have blamed him. He would have had company, he would have been relaxed, he would have followed nature's lead! But he wasn't like all the rest.

I thought about how, when we are the strongest, or display the MOST COURAGE, we may end up standing alone in our resolve and perhaps that is what makes finding our courage so hard -- because we know we will most likely be going it alone. Without friends or allies flanking our quivering bodies, without armor to withstand the first arrow as it silently pierces us, even without someone in front or behind to lead or follow, we find ourselves having to rely solely on our intuition, experience or even just a sense of right and wrong. Those are our only companions...

But wait. If we have intuition, experience and a sense of what to do, are we not in the best company of all? Are we not sharing, or connected to, or combined and humming with all the energy, light, wisdom and power of the entire sum of our universe? And that little leaf, even though he was alone, he was still connected to the majesty of that tree, and he borrowed, I surmise, it's wisdom and experience. It must have reached down into the deep roots, pulling in through the soil the majesty of the entire earth. And with tips curled and still supple, it then called on the sky, and the water in the air, to hold it up and teach it...teach it for just a little while longer...before it would eventually know that it was HIS time to leave.

When you join us this December 13th, for Cake and Champagne, think about this final ode to COURAGE. That even though you may find yourself alone in your resolve, you still have access to all the power of everything around you. And if you're lucky, the hand of a friend -- which we will gladly supply for you...

Thank you for following us for another year -- stay tuned for 2013, and we will see you the 13th!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What does your "Authentic Greeting" sound like?

When my children were little, I ended up having a lot of conversations with teachers, coaches, clergy, in-laws and friends. At one time, one of my friends told me that I had a confident voice. "You have a great Mommy voice." She said, smiling. "I would do whatever you said." And I suppose a definition was born.

What is a Mommy voice? Is it one of confidence? Does it command attention? Fear? Respect? I know that when I spoke I felt confident and sure of myself. I was speaking of what I knew, and understood, because it was an expert at it:  my kids. I didn't falter or flutter, I wasn't formal or hard to understand. I was clear, to the point, and sincere.

This month our program will present a discussion and tools to help you create that very simple and somewhat elusive idea of your own mommy voice, that of your "authentic greeting." It's not the promo paragraph nor your elevator speech -- which is, by the way, not a good visual. How could you garner the trust of someone in an elevator? You're trapped in a small, metal box tethered by a steel cable, where your only means of control is a series of buttons illuminated by a flickering flourescent light? And then you start saying something like, "If I could show you how to earn $3,000 in 30 days, would you be interested?" Gosh. That's not a style I subscribe to. I'm more about saying, "hi!" and getting to know someone long before 'the pitch,' that is so frequently advocated as a first step. By starting out real, I create a way for them get to know me first, which allows them to take the first step and ask the questions about what I do and what I stand for.

Now ask yourself. Do you do really do that every time you meet a potential business connection? Are we really taught how to combine a greeting with self promotion? Do you have a way to talk about yourself without the business blurb getting in the way of making a meaningful connection? Can you be YOU right at the beginning of chance to make a new connection?

We can show you how with just a few simple tips and processes you can master QUICKLY.
Join us, Thursday November 1st, when we gather at Whole Foods' Wine Loft for our next event.

Please join us! Click here to view the invite and reserve your space!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Silencing the Voices That Sabotage

There isn't a day that goes by that we're not in a battle. Like a see-saw, we go from confident and energetic to hesitant and doubtful in the blink of an eye as though there are TWO of us inside. One negative and one calm and confident. The negative voice says things like, "Can I really do all the things I'm dreaming of? Is it just a cruel joke that I can be anything I want? What if I fail, and worse than that, what if there is nothing special for me because I'm not really special?"

Some are only haunted by this self-dialog once in a great while; able to manage the voices with ease, and move forward without defeat. Some can hardly hear the sound of hope ringing out, the noice of despair is so deafening. But know this, we all hear it because we're all human. Is there a way to isolate the voice of our authentic selves? Can we uncover the strength that is already there?

Networking, Women and Wine is in it's 5th Summer. And overall, I have realized something. We talk a lot about being authentic. And finding authentic connections. But we must remove some real and stubborn personal barriers before we can accomplish that. We have told you to be authentic, but have we explored the ways you can remove the obstacles that prevent it? Can you really make "meaningful connections" without it?

To answer that question, come to our August event, on the 22nd, at Cru Wine Bar, at 7:00. We are taking our usual casual conversation, wine tasting and a place to connect at a friendly level, and combining it with a 30 minute, casual forum to discuss and establish what we need to be able to silence the voices that threaten authenticity. 

It's my hope we can delve more deeply into giving you the SKILLS you need to build a foundation of feelings, that WILL will truly make a difference in your life.  It's just a decision to do more than offer you a PLACE to network, because I want to HELP YOU SILENCE the voices that are preventing you from being all you can be.
Won't you join us?

Friday, July 6, 2012

This is the life you saved...

Networking, Women and Wine is Proud to Sponsor the 2012 Sip and Savour Gallery Crawl to Benefit Melissa's Voice Foundation.

9.22.12 is the date and this is proving to be the most anticipated event in Charlotte! We've added an additional gallery, bringing the total to 5, and we're adding more restaurants, wine and fun. In addition, this year we will have feature the band, "Simplified" at our after-party at FABO. You won't want to miss that! - AND - the price is STILL ONLY $25 per person!

Our beneficiary, or should we say "your" beneficiary, Katie Brumley, has been successfully immersed in treatment and is doing wonderfully! She will be a big part of our 2012 celebration. It will be a chance for you to see the LIFE YOU SAVED and understand how important our work is with Melissa's Voice.

There's so much more to come! Looking forward to seeing you all!

Lynn Dreyer and Camine Pappas

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I love caramel...

...Maybe you do, too.

But when I tasted HMG's creme brulee dessert with sea salt crust I started thinking that I shouldn't be liking caramel, I should be worshiping it. This is just one of many amazing things I have eaten at the Harvest Moon Grille and I know your experience at this restaurant will be just as satisfying.

The thing is, food is complex. And the real flavors are somewhat elusive. You think you know what a grit taste like, and then you have one that was milled only hours before and you're like, "whoa...." Yes, that's really the only thing you can say cause it's so dang good.

Now, speaking of misunderstanding, take wine for instance. "Red or white?" they ask you. As though choosing it was like pointing to a color wheel at a decorator store.

"What am I eating?" Is always my reply. Because wine is meant to be paired with food and it only works if the flavors compliment and enhance eachother. It's like a footman in a Cinderella story. He dresses nice, but he's only really useful when he's helping the lovely princess into her carriage.

So here's why I'm yapping about caramel (man, I want to run down there and order it again!) On May 29th, we will have the opportunity to visit the culinary expertise of chef Cassie Parsons of the Harvest Moone Grille as she selects wines and some delicious bites for our May event. We're excited about this new venue with free parking for the first two hours and a historic and gracious environment.

I hope you are thinking about attending. Worship or not, food is meant to be explored and doing it with friends and wine is just plain smart.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Can You See Me?

I’ve often wondered why it is that the only face we are never able to see in person, is our own. We are familiar with our countenance only by reflection and touch, spending our entire lives primping, criticizing, and pondering our faces in reverse. And, when we see ourselves in a photo, we see a stranger. Everything is on the wrong side of the image compared to the person in the mirror.
What does the universe have in mind by handing us this tool of deception? Is it a cruel trick of some frantic fourth dimension? Are we unable to view ourselves if we know our own consciousness? It’s a question for philosophers and artists alike.

But let’s look at it in a different light.

Our brains, in fact see through our eyes and our eyes bring in the images of the world upside down. (Looks like there’s more to this inversion than first thought?) Then it rights it again, and through experience, tells our brains what we need to know about it. We follow a primal code, built into our cells, to see things not as they are, in order to see them as they are.

You know where I’m going with this. Yep, the true way to see things is not to worry too much about how they look at first glance. Take each idea, each experience, each image and notion and turn it over and over again, trying hard to make patterns out of what seems familiar and see if there isn’t something we’ve missed in our haste to judge ourselves, and the world.

May’s theme is suggests that you get more courage from reflection. And I submit that the lack of courage is because we feel that everything is whole and perfect except ourselves. We feel that to move forward and be brave means moving into a realm of mystery and uncertainty because we can’t see it whole from our perspective. But if we apply the logic I have offered above, we see that nothing is solid. It is all an apparition that we can mold and fashion into the life we want. By reflecting on all things we begin to see that courage isn’t something to overcome, it is something to use as a lens; a lens that brings joy and adventure into true focus.

Go ahead, lift a glass, make your way here, and see yourself in the reflection of friendship, connection and wine!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You get more courage from NATURE

April's tip was simple. You get more courage from nature. I know. You've all heard the adage that everything that ails you can be cured by going outside. (Unless of course you're suffering from allergies. Then going outside will send you to the emergency room - which I suppose is a sick but round-about way to a cure?)

In any event, I do have a point. And it's simple.

First, think about a leaf. In your mind's eye, picture the small and delicate veins that run from the base to the outer edges. We all know it's a networking of nourishment, but it's also a microcosm of the whole tree, yes? In fact it's also a small symbol of the way all organic creatures get nourishment. Whatever is taken from the sun and air is put through these networks and pulled into the tree making each leaf a conduit of life. By the same token, the vast and loamy tendrils of the root system fingers out to get nutrients from the soil and bring it to the tree.

It's quite simple. The reason nature is so valuable to us is that we are all a part of it! We are one organism, working together to share fuel and food, bask in the same sunlight and transport nourishment to all parts of our bodies and the communities we thrive in. That means that all good thing, including courage, are interdependent upon the elegant compounds and design of the small, beautiful and symbolic leaf.

We are all one, we all belong together -- so -- Gather courage from the symbolism of nature. You're never in it alone!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two Kinds of Knowledge, both result in Courage

Last night 17 of us met at The Glass House to enjoy some fantastic wine and discuss Tip #2 for our Year of Courage. An interesting turn of thoughts given that most of our friends are indulging in hugs, chocolate and red candies to make the most of this heart filled month.

We, on the other hand discovered another gem for February. Our subject was that knowledge is key in our performance and peace of mind and I submitted that there are two kinds to embrace.

Practical Knowledge: This is the kind of understand that is deep inside us, gleaned from experience or study. To explain it plainly, think of a nurse who can move about her day without even thinking twice about its rhythm. She has administered a hundred IV's, given thousands of shots, taken innumerable blood pressure readings and for the most part, developed a keep sense of what to watch for and how it fits with the whole of her day. Her courage is subtle in these situation because of her Practical Knowledge. We each use this kind of know how daily based on our vocation and training. More of it in any work situation that seems fearful will result in more courage.

Visceral Knowledge: Ah, here's the one that we need more of and will fill in all the rest of the gaps when the practical knowledge is waning or non existent. It consists of the things felt in the heart and in the soul. I'm not necessarily placing this in the faith category, this is more about the things that give us the ability to keep moving forward. Sure, we have no idea what will happen in relationships, or what life has in store. Things end, people change, illnesses and tragedy take precious things from us. And I would guess that a feeling of fear comes from the fact that we don not have control over those things or their outcome. However, we can KNOW certain things and rely on their soothing properties in times of emptiness -- We know how good the sun feels on our faces after a cold night. We know that a hug from a friend makes everything feel possible, we know that time will pass and bring us either new opportunities or a chance to grieve and heal. We know that the face of a child is a window to heaven, and that the smell of a rose or the feel of cool grass under our feet reminds us that being human is a very special gift.

There is a story about Albert Einstein and his teachers aide who at the end of one semester notices that Einstein was administering the same test that he did the semester before. "Sir, I am sorry to bring this up but this is the same test you gave last year. Won't everyone have an unfair advantage given that your previous students have discussed their experiences with you?" Einstein smiled at the aide and calmy answered. "Yes, the test is the same, but you see, the answers are all different."

And so it is with us, as we struggle to control the uncontrollable, thinking that once we conquer one things it is done forever. Life is not that way, and that is why the Visceral knowledge is so important to courage. Be calm, let each day unfold and tell you her own secrets, which like you, change each day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Majesty Beyond The Trial

Over the holidays my husband Ron and I visited the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming with family out west. Okay, so lets just say that if you don't like cold, this is not the place to be! Sure, the sun was shining, brightly in fact. But minus 2 degrees is about 70 less that I like.Majesty or not, wearing two coats, thermals, and boots make for a confined tourist.

But there is more to the story, as always. More because if you want to see the Tetons in December you have no choice but to bundle up like a yeti. It's part of the deal. And once I turned to view their famous silhouette, craggy and scarred by time, I realized that sometimes the most amazing things require you to perform a few rituals first so that you are fully prepared to receive their gifts. 

I can still hear the sound of of the crunching, frozen snow as we traipsed across the field seeking the perfect spot for photos. I had my husband's hand firmly in mine (albeit through 2 layers, but I knew he was there). I could see my breath fogging in front of me and then vanishing into the bluish haze like an apparition. And standing firmly on either side of us as we made our way down the path were the strong and colorful trees whose lacy, green needles framed our view.

Our theme this year is courage. -- We will highlight it's meaning at each event. And perhaps give you the nudge you need to find it.  It takes courage to go through a few rituals to earn the right to the glory. It takes courage to get out of your discomfort zone and push through the layers to see the light. (yes, I meant discomfort because I knew if you were comfortable you wouldn't be so scared.) It takes courage to know that after every other shoe has fallen, you can still put your shoes back on and get to the other side.

Last night at vivace, for our kickoff event, we found a starting point for courage. Joined by a group of women dedicated more so that I've seen in our meetings to date, gathered to connect in a genuine and helpful way. I believe it is an accurate cross section of how we all feel. Stripped to our thinnest, we now know that we cannot wear a mask to the party. And if we're going to see the majesty of our potential, we may have to bundle up. What I hope you will see in Networking, Women and Wine is the hand, clasped tightly around yours, ready to join you in the quest to see the majesty beyond the trial!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A gentle and timeless Christmas message for all...

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.