Monday, June 30, 2008

Mary's Wedding

Mom and I went to see a short play yesterday at the California Theater Center, Mary's Wedding. This wasn't a lavish production, but it was very moving. It had just two actors. But what a magnificent job they did!

The play is set on the eve of World War I in which a young woman recounts a dream, more like a nightmare at times, that involves two scenes that are beautifully interwoven: Mary and Charlie's early courtship in a barn safe at home and Charlie's harrowing experiences on the battlefield. Though the action jumps in time and place, "Mary's Wedding" was well-balanced in its alternating story lines of love and war. At times it was pure poetry.

The characters seemed so real. Mary was chaste and demure in a silky white dress that looked like a nightgown. But she displayed more mature qualities of intelligence, compassion and strength when she calmed Charlie's fears during the thunderstorms. Charlie was confident and daring on the battlefield, but sheepish and youthful when meeting Mary's mother over tea. They had many dimensions, some conflicting, like all of us.

The story was one that transcends time and place -- the agony of being separated from a loved one. And it was about regret over what might have been. You know it's a good play or movie when you were mesmerized during the performance and speechless when it was over.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


After the last post about Happiness, I decided to go out and actively pursue a little Happiness. So what is happiness? The Oxford Happiness Inventory, a broad measure of psychological well-being measures happiness as an aggregate of self-esteem, sense of purpose, social interest and kindness, sense of humor and aesthetic appreciation. Aesthetic appreciation - yes! That's for me!

So, Chuck and I decided to finally use the wonderful gift certificate our friends Linda Hylen (Julia Morgan Ballroom), Terry Adams (Nob Hill Ensembles), Teri Menchini (La Bocca Fina Catering), Leighsa Smyser (Branch Out), and Marilyn Tabatsky (Have Your Cake) gave us five years ago for a stay at the Gables Inn in Sausalito. Our anniversary was coming up, so this was a perfect opportunity. This was a beautiful piece of architecture, so we were off on our aesthetic journey.

The Gables Inn was indeed charming and romantic, very clean, spacious, comfortable, and run by very nice people. We went to various corners of the Bay Area and played tourist for 3 days.

We started our journey at Audobon Canyon Ranch in Bolinas, near Stinson Beach, which is only open on weekends through July 13. What a wonderful preserve. There were over 50 egrets and herons nesting in the trees. These elegant birds which are 5' tall swoop down to the lagoon for some fishing, then fly back up to the treetops to feed their young. You get a remarkable view from across the canyon with high-powered telescopes placed at strategic places and docents ready to answer any questions. We were so glad the third-generation owners of this tract of land decided to preserve it so we could all see the beauty of nature and the grace of these birds, rather than selling to a major corporation that had designs to fashion a resort with golf course, condo's and other activities that would have driven the birds away forever.

We took a leisurely drive to Limantour Beach, walked and enjoyed the view, which was just exquisite. Then, we had dinner at the Olema Inn out on a terrace overlooking a tranquil garden. Lovely.

The next day, we visited the Conservatory of Flowers where one room was dedicated to butterflies - live butterflies flying in every direction. They were beautiful, but it was the wonder and joy on the faces of the little children that was even more terrific. We should all be like little kids - seeing things as if for the first time.

Then we went on a docent-led tour of Women Impressionists at the Legion of Honor. Our docent was such a skilled storyteller that she allowed you to get inside the heads of four very talented painters and understand the restricted lives they lived and how it affected their paintings. Before we took the tour, we wandered through the exhibit. We had commented that the subject of many of the paintings were women and children. The women in the paintings seemed to have a far-off gaze as though they had time on their hands, they were bored or sad, or trapped in some unhappiness or another.

After the tour, we understood why. In the late 19th century, respectable women required a chaperone to go out in public. And even then, many public places were off limits to decent women. Women of this strata of society had few duties. They were not even allowed to care for their own children; a nanny did that. This shaped the way women lived. Many of the male impressionist painters of the same time were free to paint either portraits or landscapes or anything they chose to. Thank you Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzales and Marie Bracquemond for making inroads for all the women who came after you!

On our third day, finally relaxed and almost entirely blissed out, we got up late, had breakfast with some international visitors, then slowly drove home via Route 1 past Half Moon Bay where we scouted a few locations for a piece were are filming for a bride and groom in early July.

It didn't take long to rediscover what relaxation and happiness are. And, we didn't have to travel far to find it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I just had to go see S*x and the City, so I went with one of my good friends, Stacie, founder of The Flirty Guide.

So here we are with our gal pals Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte 5 years after the TV show ends. Carrie and Mr. Big finally tied the knot. But will it lead to Happiness, with a capital 'H'? Probably not. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky says that only 10% of our happiness can be attributed to life circumstances such as whether you are rich or poor, beautiful or plain, healthy or unhealthy, married or single. So now just because Carrie is married and is much richer because she married Mr. Big, her happiness will probably not change much.

Of our four heroines, it seems that Charlotte understands the secret of Happiness best. When Samantha asks her, "How often are you happy in your relationship?" Charlotte answers; "Every day." Sam asks again, "Every day?!!" and Charlotte answers, "Well, not all day every day but yes, every day." That would seem to be because Charlotte (always my favorite of the bunch) has a variety of traits shared by the happiest people.

o They express gratitude.
o They practice acts of kindness.
o They cultivate optimism.
o They savor life's pleasures.
o They learn to forgive.
o They practice spirituality.
o They exercise and are active.
o They are committed to pursuing lifelong goals and ambitions.
o They show poise and strength in the face of adversity.
o They nurture relationships.

To me, Charlotte is definitely a heroine for living life to the fullest every day. Every day? Yes, every day.