About Kathy Booker

My career is in transportation and supply chain analysis with an emphasis on project management. I work for Penguin Random House LLC. in the Westminster, MD fulfillment center. I have a wonderful son, a young adult who is the pride of my life. Besides my interest in enhancing my career skills, I am also interested in writing, books, music, hiking, and beginning yoga.

Sunday Morning Rambling

FullSizeRenderThe wind is harsh this morning.  Gusts are causing the siding on the house to creak and moan.  Being a light sleeper, this is what woke me shortly after 5 am.  I wasn’t ready to be awake, but I tossed the covers aside, picked up Buddy (my dachshund), and started the day.

As I start jotting down thoughts for this post, it’s a little past 7 am.  I have already finished a small load of laundry.  I’ve had two cups of fantastic coffee, a 50-50 blend of Monsoon Myst and Honduran Blend from our local Furnace Hills Coffee Co.  I’ve got a coffee maker that grinds the beans and makes the pot of coffee with the push of a button.  How I savor the smell of freshly ground coffee on my weekend mornings!

I finished reading “The Buried Giant” last night.  If you like a fantasized-historical account of the Britons and Saxons post-King Arthur, full of a mist that robs the people of their memories, a she-dragon, monks, knights, etc., it’s a good book to read.  Honestly, don’t think that this is weirder than it is, but what I like about the book as much as the story is the book’s binding and jacket.  The jacket reminds of linen.  I wanted to read the book, and when I picked it up and felt it in my hands, I knew it had to be on my bookshelf.  I never judge a book by its cover, but in this case, if I had been wavering on whether to buy it, I would have after seeing it.

Short post today – it’s a busy day, lots to do like grocery shopping, more laundry, and all the other fun weekend stuff that gets crammed in before the work week starts again.  Have a  blessed day, everyone!

Avalon

Once upon a time, in a city 800 miles away (well, not exactly 800 miles – I rounded it up for dramatic effect), there lived a young woman with beautiful black hair.  Actually, I can’ tell you what her real hair color is because she’s a stylist and colors it all the time.  Anyway, on this particular cold but sunny Sunday morning, the woman, whose name is Avalon, decided to go to the corner coffee shop to get her daily dose of caffeine.  Lo and behold, as she arrived at the shop, there she spied a handsome young man.  Her eyes were filled with stars as she fantasized about them becoming a couple and sharing their mornings drinking coffee and scanning the news on their tablets.

Sidebar: Think about this – how different it would have been thousands of years ago talking about reading tablets compared to now in 2015.

Back to the story –

Suddenly, as Avalon stood there daydreaming, she heard a voice calling, “Next?  Next?  Miss, what can I get for you?”  Avalon shook off the wonderful thoughts and proceeded to order her coffee.  She glanced around and saw the good-looking guy exit the shop.  Luckily, the shop front was nothing but a large window, so Avalon was able to see that the man was standing at the bus stop on the corner.  She couldn’t assess whether he was waiting for the bus or waiting to cross the street.  You know how it is when you’re supposed to stand there waiting for the tiny red-lighted hand to turn to the white-lighted icon of a walking person.  So she paid for her tall black coffee, no cream, no sugar, and rushed out the door ignoring the fact that she was holding the cup in the wrong spot (not on that cute little brown band they slip over the cup to keep you from burning your hand).  Avalon scurried to the corner and stood next to the charming young man.

“Wow!” she exclaimed, not looking at him.  “This coffee is super hot!”

The young man turned to her and admitted, “Yep, mine is too hot to even attempt to drink right now.  But it sure feels good to hold something warm.”

The smiled at each other.

“Do you live around here?” Avalon asked, never being a shy person or afraid to say what’s on her mind.

“No, I’m staying with a friend,” the man replied.  “Oh, that must be my bus,” he said as the Number 42 Metro pulled next to the curb.  The young man boarded the bus and sat down without waving goodbye or even acknowledging that Avalon was still standing on the corner.  The bus pulled away.

Avalon stood there, dumbfounded, wondering why her fantasies never come true.  Feeling slightly downhearted, she started walking back to her apartment.

The End

Did you thing there would be a happy ending?  Well, not all stories end with “and they lived happily ever after.”  The moral of this story is – reality bites sometimes.  So move on, make the best of what you have, always be mindful, and look for the next opportunity.

Snowflakes

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I’m sitting here watching the snow. Flakes flitter downward in steady streams – then a push from a breeze, and they scurry around haphazardly, some being driven into the windowpane. As the breeze dissipates, the snow falls in unison again. But look at the window. The ones that got caught up in the breeze, the ones that found themselves stuck on the glass – those are the ones we get to see, to examine, to view the intricate detail of a snowflake and ponder its beauty.

I think people are like that at times. Groups of people, all are doing the same thing, each one following the other. Then a thought, an idea, takes hold of some of them, and they run off to do their own thing. Some of them don’t jump back into the fold; some of them do. If it weren’t for those people scurrying off to explore their own ideas, the human race would never see progress.

An idea doesn’t have to be grand to be important. It doesn’t have to incite others to take action. The idea doesn’t have to cure illness or promote the peace so many are looking for. What IS important is the feeling of fulfillment as you pursue your idea.

Let others in – let them be part of your journey.

The Eternity of Accomplishments

We were driving on Interstate 695 and passed the sign for Unitas Stadium at Towson University. I recalled when the stadium was renamed for Johnny Unitas after he passed away in 2002. Unitas Stadium is the third name this stadium has had. I wondered how long a sports figure’s name is remembered. How many generations will pass before someone says, “Who was Unitas, and why is this stadium named after him?” Taking that thought process one step further, if you don’t have family members or friends who are knowledgeable about sports, do you know – do you even care – who Johnny Unitas was?

I contrast that to people like Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Da Vinci, Monet, and Van Gogh – names hardly anyone can escape being acquainted with. These people and their accomplishments are eternal. Their music, art, concepts and philosophies are taught in schools, woven into fiction and non-fiction books, and become snippets in commercials. Their accomplishments in their specific fields are foundations for so many other things. You don’t have to be involved in music to be acquainted with their lullabies, symphonies, or waltzes. You don’t have to be an artist to have seen “Starry Night” on a book cover, t-shirt, or poster. You don’t have to be a philosopher, scientist, or mathematician to know of their theories and discoveries. And think of religious figures. There’s no way to escape knowing the names of people like Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Krishna, Moses, etc.

Circling back to sports, it seems that the sport itself is remembered, but are the names attached to the sports eternal? Do they only become eternal when awards are handed out in their names, foundations are created to continue their good works, or stadiums are named after them? And are sports figures more regionalized and not subject to becoming globally renowned? For example, does anyone in Mumbai know the 1942 Preakness winner and the jockey who rode the horse to fame? Who in Luxembourg might know the stats of the 1963 Football Hall of Famer from the Chicago Bears?

I guess the ultimate question is, what is the driving force behind those whose accomplishments become eternal compared to those who are more generational? It’s about spreading the word, networking, challenging their ideas – and could it be related to the period in which they live? Could it be that as we develop more and more methods of communication – telephone, radio, television, internet, social networks – that there is such a high volume of messaging in so many forms that the important messages may be getting lost in noise? Word of mouth and painstakingly slow written communications of the past meant being persistent if you wanted to get your message out to the masses. Suffering for the sake of your message was not uncommon. These days, we tweet in 140 characters and post blogs that may never be read unless you’ve got a handful of followers. Self-publishing, self-promotion are so easy that anyone can do it. Getting the audience is the difficult part. So when we’re flooded with messages day and night, how do we eliminate the noise, identify and focus on the important messages? How do we know that we’re not missing the art, the music, the philosophy, and the spiritual direction of the people who are supposed to be the next set of eternals?

“You Can Never Go Home”

A sunny and very windy Sunday morning here in Westminster.  Reminds me of Chicago and the bitterly cold, windy days there.  I’m trying to think of what to write this morning, and a song comes to mind.

I open iTunes and start playing the Moody Blues’ song “You Can Never Go Home” from their album “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour” and think maybe they got it wrong. You absolutely can go home again, especially in your thoughts.

“I don’t know what I’m searching for, I never have opened the door.  Tomorrow might find me at last, turning my back on the past.  But time will tell of stars that fell, a million years ago.  Memories can never take you back, home, sweet home.  You can never go home anymore.  All my life, I never really knew me till today.  Now I know why I’m just another step along the way …”

I think each of us never really knows our inner self until some epiphany occurs.  I don’t think it matters how old we are when it happens.  Some people are fortunate and figure it out when they are young; others (like me) are older and still searching.  As I read more and more about different spiritual paths, it occurs to me that maybe this is all part of the journey.

So now, I reconsider the lyrics.  Do they refer to the journey to enlightenment and not the earthly life we know at the moment?  Using that interpretation, I think what they’re saying is that we don’t go back and relive past lives (unless we haven’t yet learned what we’re supposed to learn in this one).  Yes, by the way, I believe in reincarnation.

Funny thing (and I think I have written about this before), when I was in my early teens in Chicago, I used to do yard work for a neighbor.  Her son was away from home (don’t recall if it was college or the service), and she would invite me to lounge in her son’s chaise with headphones and listen to his albums.  I remember being introduced to Santana and the Moody Blues there.  I fell in love with the MBs.  Now, all these years later, I’m finding entirely new meaning in their songs.  I wonder if they had already attained what so many of us are still looking for.  Based on some of their lyrics, it seems so.

Still trying to be mindful of everything around me.  Trying to take the not-so-nice things in stride, whether it’s insanely awful drivers on the roads, random things getting messed up at home, or filing my taxes and learning the results are highly unfavorable.  Everything happens for a reason, right?

Particles of Wisdom

IMG_0004I don’t know if it’s something to do with getting older or maybe it’s just that time of year, but I find myself searching for something.  I don’t know what that “something” is yet.  So I’m doing my best to be in a mindful state as much as possible, waiting for the universe to reveal particles of wisdom.  I hope I’ll recognize them when they appear.

Writing has always been a passion of mine.  I used to write a blog every Sunday morning back when MySpace was the cool place to be.  I’d write about anything and everything on my mind, including some of the guys I was dating after my divorce.  A few of the guys I wrote of were flattered; others not so much.

Years later I find I don’t know what to write about.  I took an online blogging course to help me find direction and gather tools for posting blogs.  People (like Seth Godin) come along with some very insightful blogs which prompt deep thought.  I find myself wondering what it really is I’m trying to do.  What is my purpose in blogging?  What wisdom am I trying to impart?  And I’m lost – I don’t really know.

I feel like the universe is nudging me along.  Since last summer I have reacquainted myself with things I used to love when I was much younger.  Metaphysical things.  Reading about different religions.  Reminding myself how much I love music and writing.

So maybe my purpose is to write about my journey?  I’m not sure yet.  I’m hoping the universe, and time, will tell.

Until then, I’ll sip my morning coffee on Sundays and work on redeveloping the weekly blog posts.  See you next week?

“What to do when it’s Your Turn”

I received copies of Seth Godin’s latest book, “What to do when it’s Your Turn” yesterday.  By the end of the evening I had finished reading it.  I highly recommend it.

Seth Godin has a way with words.  He has a way with getting his point across.  My takeaway after reading the book – and I emphasize that it’s my takeaway – is that I have to stop waiting for everything to be “perfect” before I tackle the things on my bucket list.  I’ve been waiting for “my turn” – for the feeling that the stars are perfectly aligned, that I’ve practiced as much as any human can practice, and that I will be received well when I finally take that plunge.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s the novel I want to publish or the songs I want to sing in front of a coffee house crowd.  It doesn’t matter if it’s giving the killer presentation at work that causes everyone to walk away nodding their head in agreement with what I had to say.  No matter what “it” is, I just have to do it and accept that I may win or I may not.

In reality, I’ll win either way (in spite of my hesitation).

Waiting for a Call (a Fictional Story)

The streets are bathed in the shadowy silver light of the full moon. The distant barking of dog – from its pitch it sounds like a large dog – is echoing against the houses and trees. I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed in the darkness of the room staring out the window. I’m wondering if he’ll call.

He wrote earlier in the day in his email that he had something important to tell me and that he’d call later. It’s not any easy thing for me to do – to wait – and he knows it. But I had no choice.

The entire ride home was spent contemplating what he was going to tell me. That he got a promotion? That he won the lottery? Or maybe someone he knows did something noteworthy? My mind must have considered hundreds of possibilities in my twenty minute trek home.

I sat through the 6 o’clock news with my phone next to me. He didn’t call. I ate a quick dinner of a bologna sandwich and a bag of kettle cooked potato chips, and he still didn’t call.

At one point my impatient self tried calling him, but the call went right to voice mail. I sighed in frustration. I didn’t leave a message.

Almost midnight. I decide to go to bed. Although, if I had stayed up waiting for the phone to ring, it wouldn’t have been the first time I’d done that. But one lives and learns that sometimes people forget, or they get involved in something so intense that they forget everything else … even promises.

The story should end with some exceptional reason why he didn’t call like he said he would. But it doesn’t. He didn’t have a reason other than he forgot. He forgot.

When I press him for the news he was supposed to share, he says, “oh, it was nothing really. I wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you. That’s all.”

That was all. Deflated. Annoyed. Bothered by his insensitivity, knowing how I get impatient and that my minds tries to consider all possible outcomes. So he was thinking of me. I think of him hundreds of times each day.

But I move on. You won’t find me waiting up for another call promised but never delivered. End of story.

The Music Lesson

I’m sitting on the cold tan metal folding chair in the narrow hallway. The hunter green carpeting looks fairly new, but the cream colored vinyl moulding has seen better days. Although as I scan the white wall across from me, I see that the scrapes, nicks, and handprints littering the paint blend nicely with the scuffed moulding. Apparently the wall has its own story.

I am twenty minutes early for my mandolin lesson. Behind the closed classroom door next to my row of chairs the sounds of electric guitar chords mix incongruently with the trumpet blaring a halting version a Mendelssohn tune from a room two doors down to my left. The piano tinkling a show tune in the last room down the hall is interrupted …

… “Good job,” the guitar player’s instructor enthusiastically blurts …

… and the violin to my right chirps happy notes agreeing with him.

Three chairs to my left the mom of the budding guitarist reads her novel. She periodically coughs into her hand and then turns a page. She seems to be oblivious to all that is happening around her. It must be a very good story she is reading.

To my right a black Epiphone guitar case stands lonely against the wall. Its owner is MIA, probably perusing music books, maybe buying a set of strings or some flat picks, occupying himself before his lesson starts.

It’s Tuesday afternoon.

This story is about waiting your turn surrounded by sounds, patience, and creatively killing time. It’s a story about the drive to learn, the need to prove you can do it. It’s about never thinking you are too young or too old to create music.

The Art of Storytelling

If you’re retelling a story from your past, not only should you be able to transport yourself back to the very place and time of the event, but the person you’re relaying the story to should feel as if they were there with you.  Even if it’s fictional, it must ring true to both you and your audience.  Let me give you an example.

I went hiking in Catoctin Mountain Park this past August.  I hadn’t been hiking there since the previous fall and was anxious about walking the paths I know.  This may sound silly, but I feel a real connection when I hike there, something that refreshes my psyche.  I left my house at approximately 7:45 am to insure I would have at least the beginning of my trek to myself (it’s a 45 minute drive and usually I’m the first on the trail).  True to history, I was the only person at the mouth of Hog Rock Nature Trail when I arrived at the parking area off Park Central Road.  My plan was to hike the trail to the vista and then continue on towards Cunningham Falls.

It was unseasonably cool that August morning so I grabbed my gray fleece vest from the backseat of the car.  I zipped it up and then opened the trunk to don my hiking boots and backpack.  I snuggled into my new gargoyle-colored boots, bounced my heels up and down a couple of times to admire how good they felt on my feet.  I juggled the backpack onto my shoulders and then picked up my hiking poles.  I know it’s a “girl thing”, but I couldn’t help thinking how fantastic it is that the shades of gray and purple in my boots, backpack, and poles were coordinated.  Slamming the trunk shut and locking the vehicle, I couldn’t help smiling as I moved onto the trail.

Not ten seconds into the walk and stopped dead in my tracks.  I gazed around at the mountain landscape, barely recognizing the trail I have walked many times over the past years.  Treepocolypse – the name given to the devastating ice storm we suffered early in the year – had ravaged many of the trees.  I felt a heavy weight on my heart as I looked left to right, breathing in the sadness of so much loss.  I walked on for a few minutes and stopped to assess what had happened over the past many months.  A good number of the trees had been cut into large logs which were heaped in small piles away from the trail.  Some logs had been used on the path to mark or ease the incline/decline.  However, it seemed that many more of the trees were frozen in time at the moment of the storm – countless numbers of them leaning, pulled up at their roots, wedged precariously against neighboring trees; many more laying flat against the mountain floor.  I sighed deeply.

As I walked on towards the vista I could hear rustling in the grass to my left.  I stopped.  A chipmunk scurried away.  Birds chirped from high in the trees, probably alerting those ahead that there was an intruder in their midst.  I looked up towards the treetops which were dark against the cloudy sky.  I could hear the birds but couldn’t see them.  None of them were flying.  Odd.  I continued on, paying close attention to the trail beneath my boots.  Spider webs clung tightly to clumps of leaves.  The first of yellow and green and brown leaves littered the trail.  No sounds but occasional rustling leaves and the birds.

I wandered off the trail about midway to the vista just to see a large rock formation colored with moss.  I snapped a picture with my phone.  I turned and took a few more shots of tree trunks held up precariously by other trees standing tall against the dead weight.

I reached the vista and stood there for five, maybe six minutes.  It was just cloudy enough that visibility was reduced to the point of not seeing much beyond a mile or so.  I looked down at the landscape directly below the vista and saw dozens of fallen trees littering the mountainside.  So much destruction!  Again, I sighed deeply but admitted that this is a natural thing for nature to make way for new growth.

I moved on past the vista along the trail towards the tiny sliver of a creek which runs down off the trail, the place where I’ve sat many times on the largest of the stones and contemplated nature while listening to the water trickle over the creek bed.  When I reached my destination, my mouth dropped as I stared at the mud and the little puddle of water no larger than a quarter.  What was going on up here in Catoctin?

I was glad I had the trail to myself.  I had a tarot reading in Gettysburg two weeks prior.  The reader said that I would experience something wonderful in a form of communication with nature if followed her instructions, and I knew that I would only do so if no one else was around.  I dropped my backpack and pulled out a packet of loose organic tobacco which she had told me to purchase if I could find it (which I did at a tobacco store near my house).  I gingerly opened the blue plastic envelope and scooped up a handful of the sweet smelling stuff.  Carefully, I sprinkled it in a large circle that spanned the width of the trail.  I replaced the packet and then knelt down within the circle, knees first, and then resting my palms on the mountain.  I closed my eyes and tried to become one with the natural forces surrounding me (this is what the reader had told me to do).  In less than a minute, I could feel the pull of something move from the ground and upward through my body.  I felt as if something inside of me was being pulled upward, gravity meaning nothing at this point to whatever was releasing itself through me, from me.

I jumped up, a little startled at the feeling that had consumed me.  But I was curious – was this all in my head, or did it really happen?  I assumed the same position as a minute ago, and again felt the same force making its way from the mountain through me and upward.  Craziness, I though.

I stood, and with my feet I swept the tobacco towards the edges of the path.  I considered what had just happened, wondering if it due to the lack of coffee (I never drink the stuff prior to a hike), or if something spiritual had happened.  Knowing I would never really know for sure, I trekked back to my car.  On my way, I took some of the more interesting stones from the path and tucked them into the pockets of my backpack.  Souvenirs of most curious hike.

Off in the distance I could hear a couple of motorcycles making their way down Park Central Road.  They drove along, and then I heard the engines idling.  They had stopped somewhere not far from where I was.  I got a chill, not from the air, but by recalling the “Dateline” episode where a serial killer was torturing and murdering hikers in the southeast.  You know, I’d never been concerned about hiking alone prior to viewing that episode.  However, I shrugged it off.  It’s either hike alone or not hike at all.  I choose the first option every time.

So that’s the end of the story.  Did it feel real to you?  Was I able to transport you to Catoctin, and were you on the hike with me?  How much of the story do you think was fact, and how much was fiction?