Sunday, November 30, 2008

Heroic Intuition: A Day In The Life Of A Psychic

My husband George often consults my intuition from the seemingly insignificant to the potentially important. Before I left for the day, he announced that he was expecting deliveries from 9am to 5pm that he might have to sign for but he wanted to take a shower. I replied, "I think the delivery will arrive at 11:40am. Plan your shower around that."

At 11:41am George phoned my mobile and simply said, "You're amazing. The package just arrived." I said, well, it's not me, it's just my intuitive awareness and I could've been wrong. Maybe I'm just lucky." Then I smiled to myself thinking, "Some women impress their partners with food. I impress mine with psychic prowess."

I received the call while I was with my toddler on her weekly play date at the mall. I was standing with my mini mom's group in Target as we were saying our good-byes. Kimi was very pregnant with baby number two. I blurted out, "I think this boy is going to born on Thanksgiving." She looked at me a bit askance saying, "I'm not due until December 6 and I haven't even dropped yet." That voice inside of me was still strong and I stuck to my prediction for the birth of her second child despite that her belly hadn't dropped yet and her due date wasn't for a few more weeks.

I left my gal pals and as my daughter and I were exiting the mall, we passed the escalators and something inside of me said, "Turn around, now." Just as I did I saw a boy, maybe five years of age, sitting on his feet while going down the escalator. I noticed that his shoe lace was untied and dancing with the grips of the escalator teeth.

My daughter was secure in her stroller, thank God, because I didn't even think about her safety in leaving her and rushing to the child who appeared to be in danger. I ran to him and was able to grab him as the escalator began to eat his shoe. I pulled him up with such ferocious velocity his foot came right out of his shoe. He was gripping me tightly with a mixture of fear and gratitude.

Suddenly, his mother appeared from the second floor screaming for her child. All she saw was another woman, one she didn't know, who was grabbing her son. Security arrived and shut down the escalator. I tried to yell up to the woman to explain what had happened but she didn't speak English. The boy hugged me and then ran toward his mother. I looked over to check on my daughter and she was safe.

There were two men at the end of the escalator giving chair massages who just sat and watched. It amazed me that they didn't come to help. In giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they just didn't realize what was going on.

Later that evening while taking my nightly walk on the beach, I once again heard a voice say, "Turn around, now!" When I did, I noticed a small fire on the beach blowing in the direction of the waterfront homes. I live south east of the recent Montecito fires and north west of the recent Northridge fires and the smoke and fear those fires incited was still pulsating inside of me.

I ran toward it to survey if it was just a bonfire or the act of an arsonist. It was an intentional fire going strong that someone had left. Surrounding it were environmentally protected dry patches of brush. Each slight gust of wind was picking up sparks from the flames and carrying them into the brush. I felt a sense of panic and immediacy to put this fire out.

I ran to the nearest house on the beach with its lights on, no one answered the door. I ran to the next and saw a couple making dinner trough their large oceanic view of glass. I'm an asthmatic who does not a run but I had never run so fast in my life. My extended family lives at the end of the street that led to the fire on the beach and my own home is just a few blocks from theirs. If I couldn't get help soon, everyone's home in the neighborhood was in jeopardy of being destroyed.

I was so worried about frightening the people in the house who I had never met as I came running, panting up their back porch to tap on their kitchen window. "Hi, I'm your neighbor. There's a fire on the beach. Can you help me put it out?" I said exasperated with a glistening face that inspired the woman to fetch me a glass of water.

She was British and calm as she introduced herself, "I'm Claire. This is my husband Jim." She said as if we were all about to play a game of tennis. "Still mired by dread and alarm I repeated myself. "There is a fire in the sand dune near your home. I think we can put it out but we should really go now." "Let's just call 911…" She quietly quipped. "I'm afraid that by the time they get here it may be too late. If we go now we can bury it." I interrupted. She nodded with her eyes. "Alright Jim, are you coming? Turn off the BBQ and cover the meat so that the cats don't get into it. I'll bring some lanterns." And off we went looking like a trio of Elmer Fudds hunting wabbits.

I hadn't realized how far the fire seemed when walking to it versus how close it felt when running from it. We finally found the flames and with two shovels were able to bury each one. When complete, we were all grateful to each other.

I called George to tell him what had happened and he said, "Kryptonite beware. Superwoman is here!" When I reached my home he had drawn a large red "S" on a piece of paper and taped it to the front door. As I walked through the threshold my family gave me a heroes welcome and I once again gave thanks to my intuition, for all our sakes.

One week and one day later, Kimi had her second baby, a boy, on Thanksgiving.

While I appreciate my intuitive abilities, I can't allow myself to be this aware all the time. I just don't have a cape to match a telephone booth. Motherhood is too demanding to add superhero as a hyphen. Besides that, it's pseudo redundant, don't you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

True Identity Theft: How We Lose Our Individuality In The Face of Familial Resemblance

When listening to others speak about their personal challenges in life, I've noticed a common pattern. It seems that in most everyone's life there is one influential person they feel intrinsically connected to and yet struggle to not be like. Usually it is a parent or sibling, someone for whom they share enough common history or genetic resemblance with that separating their identity from the other is a chronic tug of war.

Kamie Norrn is a therapist and yet her education and job experience has not been able to save her from joining her clients in the human pitfalls that can affect us all. Kamie has two sides: who she is when she's trying to not be like her sister and who she is when she is like her sister. This constant search for individual identity has created a pattern in her of being inauthentic. She makes claims, promises or agreements under one mindset and breaks them under the other.

A friend confided in Kamie that she had abandonment issues. When they had their first conflict Kamie sent her an email stating, "I will not abandon you," and yet she never answered another phone call or email from that friend again, thus abandoning her.

Kamie told her husband that he did not have to walk on eggshells around her; and yet the moment that he didn't, she accused him of blindsiding her. In less than two years they were divorced.

Every person in Kamie's life who forces her to live up to the claims about herself that she makes, she ends up cutting off and shutting out, permanently. There is no resolution, no working things through. Her way of moving on is to deny reality, which only sets her up for a successful self fulfilled prophesy of being "blindsided" again.

Being blindsided was her main self-proclaimed issue. What exactly does being blindsided mean? For Kamie, it means dealing with the reality of facts that she isn't expecting because she has created an alternate reality of illusion that she is comfortably living in.

Whenever she would speak to me about her fears, she would bring up her sister and her best friend and all the things about them she didn't like, especially her perception of them as narcissistic. I always found this fascinating. She then went on to explain that when she was with her sister she would lose herself, and yet without her sister she did not know where she ended and her sister began.

How can Kamie know herself as separate from her sister? Through honest introspection of who she really is as an individual. Unfortunately, she is trapped between who she wants to be and who she really is; and until she integrates the two, her integrity will be elusive. By accepting what she has in common with her sister and acknowledging what she doesn't, she can reclaim her true self. This will require a tremendous amount of self-acceptance that she is not yet emotionally mature enough to embrace, but through time I have faith that she will.

Of course, if she chooses not to evolve within, it will be reflected in her life without. The world she now inhabits, a rented studio apartment with only her cat to serve as friend or family will become her infinite fate. There's nothing wrong with that, if it's what you want. But if she wants more — and most people do — she will have to find the courage to face herself.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. -Anais Nin

When not playing blues harmonica, jd smith might be found changing a diaper (her toddler's not her own), skipping barefoot on a beach, compassionately listening to the struggles of others as a psychic mentor, or metaphorically scribbling at

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Movie Review: Rachel Getting Married

For those of us who consider ourselves unfortunate to either come from highly dysfunctional families or to have survived the tragic loss of a family member who was only a child, Rachel Getting Married offers an access button into the glorious highs we may have forgotten as we buried the devastating lows in our emotional past.

This film does not glamorize the life of an addict like, say, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, a reality show on VH1. Yet, Rachel Getting Married does succeed in revealing the poetry of angst. Among the extra sensitive and extremely gifted, addiction or mental illness — often at the core of addiction — can seem like an inherited gene.

I had a sister who struggled with addiction for most of her young life, which ended at the age of 26. Anne Hathaway so brilliantly captured the moments I remember of my sister when she would be in a gathering, yet feel as if she were in a world all her own. She'd stand on the outside looking in with this pang of longing to come closer, yet it was as if she felt her insecurities were a swarm of bees around her that she was afraid would sting others if she got too close, so she always took life in from an aching distance.

Even though while watching the film I went through my entire mini pack of candy crumb infested Kleenex, the emotional release was cathartic. It reminded me of all the tiny, enchanted moments that filled my family's lives, which were scattered amongst the big, painful scenes that changed us. My sister was incredibly intelligent, deeply compassionate and somewhat of a natural, comic genius. During the long seasons when her mental illness and addiction seemed to take the air out of every room like one humid, hard to breathe day after the next, that unique life force of hers would suddenly breeze through, cool us off, invigorate our fatigue, and make us laugh so hard I needed my inhaler to catch my breath. It would bring a deep magical feeling of hope back into our hearts.

I related to every character in this film — the "normal" sister whose accomplishments were dwarfed by the drama that her troubled sister's illness consumed, the mother who detached from everyone she was biologically connected to so as not to hurt so deeply, and the over-protective, emotional father who was portrayed exquisitely by Bill Irwin, as were all the roles including Rosemarie Dewitt as the normal sister and Debra Winger as the mother. Even the cameos were gems of artistic perfection (Anna Deavere Smith and newcomer Tunde Adebimpe, to name a few). Anne Hathaway as Kym, reached a new personal mountain of truth and has earned her privilege to be considered a genuine talent. The acting was phenomenal, the likes of which I haven't seen since the 1980s in Kramer vs. Kramer.

Jonathan Demme, as director, is at his most raw, vulnerable and accessible. He has accomplished truly fine filmmaking with his latest love letter to living. This is a slice of life film captured in a quasi-documentary, voyeuristic, home movie style — one of my favorites. I feel that it's what Woody Allen wishes his films could be if he were capable of being fully present with the true multi-faceted nature of life and move beyond his two favorite subjects: infidelity and Crime and Punishment rehashing.

Rachel Getting Married has an incredibly natural unscripted feel. Like the perfect vacation, the film flows and lingers where desired. The long shots of atmosphere viewing void of dialogue made me feel like a part of the scene. The film was filled with actors and non-actors alike and an eclectic group of interesting artists — particularly musicians. I came from such roots.

Now, most of my musician friends have gone on to such success that their music is primarily sequenced into a computer whereas it used to be played live in my living room. This is one of the primary beauties of this film. It captures elegantly the luxury of exploration on the road to success or recovery or just, life — the collection of meaningful moments that paves the path of our often anxiety filled journeys and those experiences we miss having once we reach our desired destination. I don't miss lugging equipment from one gig to the next, but I do miss having my home filled with live music on a regular basis. I don't miss the treacherous pain my sister endured; but I do passionately miss those moments of bliss when she made us all feel like such a connected, cohesive family unit.

As we make our transition from collegic freedoms to adult responsibilities, we tend to strive for balance. For most of us, the dramas of our youth die down as routine sets in; and one day we realize we have reached that plateau of normality that we were striving for. Our emotional state becomes fairly even keel and we feel a sense of pride in that. Then a film like Rachel Getting Married comes along and reminds us of the adrenaline that unexpected peaks and valleys create. Memories are created with high surges of adrenaline. They create the splash of color that illuminates most people's safe beige décor. The unexpected is not where I want to live, but I'm sure glad I have a scrapbook from my travels to and from those adrenaline drenched places of exhilaration.

Of course, not everyone is going to come away from this film with the same impressions I have. I can imagine many people in my life quipping, "It's too depressing. Too slow. Too filled with drama." If you are a person who goes to the movies to escape and you prefer romantic comedies or action adventures, then Rachel Getting Married, may not be your cup of tea. If however, you escape to go on expeditions of the spirit which can take you deep within your life or at the very least the lives of others and you miss the filmmaking pace that was more prevalent between 1960-1980, then you might very well appreciate this film as much as I have.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sensa Release Party Update

I began taking it on November 15 and today, Wednesday, November 19, five days later, I dropped an entire pant size. My weight is still in its normal range of fluctuation but I find I have more energy and less cravings. I am still eating anything I want, all the foods I'd have to give up on other weight loss programs, and that has been an incredible psychological gift. When I feel I have permission to have "bad foods" my inner child doesn't overindulge just to rebel, it actually chooses to eat in moderation. I am also finding that I am eating about a third less food than I used to and I'm comfortably going longer between each meal.

It took a few days to get in the mindset of habitually putting the tastants on every single thing I eat, but now it's second nature. It's a fun conversational piece which I'm sure will gain more merit if my success continues. I feel hopeful and grateful. I do find myself saying quiet mantras as companion to the system: I lovingly release my excess weight while I move toward the healthiest version of me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dude! and Other Language Pet Peeves

I do not want to hear anyone, especially a woman, using the word dude, in their vernacular. It's past its expiration date of hip, new slang. As far as I'm concerned it's unimaginative and a sign of evolutionary regression. It's not cute, chic, creative or fun. It's Spicoli at Fast Times at Rigemont High. Period.

I'm also fatigued by one or two word answers as a general response to everything being said — "Cool," "Sweet," "Awesome," "Nice," or "You Rock," "Right on." Really? Why? How is it sweet, awesome, nice or cool? Why do I rock? Please elaborate, articulate and use your words, plural, to describe and explain why you think what you feel or why you feel what you think. Language is beautiful. Why be so economical with speech? It's not always effective, and it's rarely engaging. Why should I be interested in you if you are making no effort to be of interest?

What happened to expressive articulation and the colorful, imaginative use of language? I enjoy slang and creative updates of classic words. I'm a huge fan of Ebonics. I love language and its evolutionary transformations. Therefore, I want to hear the fullness of it, not just sound bites.

In our impatient society, most names are butchered to one syllable and responses to queries are often minimized to a solitary word. Texting has replaced speaking and text messages go as far as to use one letter to replace an entire word or an abundance of acronyms for shallow, single aspect expressions. I have more reactions in my being than "OMG!" and "LMAO!"

Where are our adjectives and verbs and sentence structures? Could it be that people are simply no longer in touch with their feelings or thoughts enough to elaborate on them? Have we become a one-dimensional nation of expressionless automatons? Are we really too busy to speak? Or is it fear of not seeming culturally relevant if we actually use language as a form of communication? These annoyances used to be reserved for teenagers, now I find them in women and men of all ages. Is evolution itself becoming extinct?

I miss the poetry of language, the original, loquacious verbiage of my intellectual, artistic friends who are now too busy living life to take the time to write or speak about it.

The words of Gwendolyn Fairfax, from The Importance of Being Earnest, ring now in my head, "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on a train." I do not want to be the most interesting person I know.

Please be introspective and share those reflections with others. Think, ponder, muse and then express, articulate and communicate, please. My brain is drying up from lack of outward verbal stimulation from others. I need for people to come alive and use their wit, cleverness and imagination to generate stimulating and entertaining conversations and leave the robotics of language to ghastly sci-fi and reality TV. May the Internet bequeath its thesaurus to us all.

I could keep using more words; but I, along with the rest of Americans, have a word limit.

Word Count 522

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Join My Release Party!

Even though my daughter is about to turn two, I still look like I'm about four months pregnant. So, when the opportunity presented itself to try a new weight loss product, Sensa, that did not require dieting as the holidays approached, I thought to myself, what do I have to lose other than a few pounds?

I'm addicted to positive outcomes, especially the likes of dramatic testimonials, and really noticed myself starting to believe that the caliber of success I was watching in the Sensa promo, could also be my own. But before I could imagine my own dramatic before and after picture, I was given a steadfast reality barometer as the words "Results not typical" appeared on the screen. Of course, those words appear on all the commercials for weight loss programs, from Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, Weight Watchers to numerous exercise programs. The trick I told myself to move past this amygdala kill joy is that I am not typical!

I have set a start date of November 15, and will report back on January 15, with my results. I'd love to have some companions on this release party, if you will. "Weight loss" seems like I'm losing something. "Release party" feel like I'm about to regain some of the freedoms I once had: More energy, smaller clothes and a return to my own personal homeostasis.

To join me, you and your loved ones can use the promo code offered through BettyConfidential.Com