In Defense of the Impractical

Ray and I could be poster children for the impractical. Our whole married life has been a reflection of this approach to life, from buying and selling antiques early in our marriage – not the most “practical” profession – to moving to Los Angeles from our town of Sherman, Texas – not the most practical of moves.

Alas, we did try once to operate with practicality in mind – we moved back from LA to Sherman shortly after my brother died, the person who had encouraged us to move there in the first place.  The Texas return seemed to make the most sense. After all, we owned a house outright and I took a perfect job for me: the executive director of a drug and alcohol prevention program. We made it exactly eight months. Despite economic security, we simply were not as happy as we had been in LA and we made the very impractical decision to move back there even if it meant we might have to toss burgers to make ends meet.

We have never regretted that decision to move back to Los Angeles (and we never had to toss burgers) though we do love Texas and eventually bought another home there so we could visit. But, for us, the return to LA was the right choice even though it involved a fair amount of risk.

A few years ago, I discovered a personality test online called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and Ray and I both took it. We came out with the exact same profile except for the extrovert/introvert scale. The Keirsey is like the Myers-Briggs and Ray scored as an ENFP and I scored as an INFP. The E and I are extrovert and Introvert, the N is intuitive, F is feeling, and P is perceptive. The gist is that these types of personalities are Idealists and they operate directly from intuition, feelings and perception, not logic.  Based on our personality types, if things don’t feel right, then we are just not going to do them for long, no matter how practical they may seem.

So, tonight a friend of mine from LA was telling me that she didn’t know what her next career move should be. She said she would love to stay in LA, but it might be more practical to move somewhere cheaper since she’s not sure what job she’ll be getting. My response, “Call Ray or me if you want support to go with the impractical choice.”

Sometimes the most logical choice simply isn’t the right choice. Particularly if you have another option that you really would rather choose but are having troubling justifying. I know from our many years of trying to decide whether we should live in Texas or California. On a pros and cons list, Texas won hands-down. This was where we owned property outright, where our family was and where life was easier on a day-to-day basis. However, as Idealists, California holds an intangible allure for both of us. LA is the land of dreams and despite the fact that many people end up waiting tables rather than becoming movie stars, there is a “Go West, Young Man” spirit that permeates the city. Many people there have actively chosen not to operate out of practicality, but rather from their dreams. They may not “make it” in the way they expected, but they have the satisfaction of having tried.

Ray and I returned to LA with no idea how we were going to make money. The only thing we knew was that we wanted to live in LA. The money has come – even if the recession nearly killed us – and we have made friends with lots of people who are as crazy as we are in terms of jumping off the cliff and seeing where we’ll land.

If the practical feels right, by all means make that choice; but if it doesn’t, then trust your intuition and go where your heart leads you.  Sometimes a little risk can make all the difference.  Sometimes, it can change the course of your entire life.

Here is the Keirsey link, if you’re interested.  You can take the temperment sorter test for free.

Back in North Texas

I am sitting in our house in Sherman alone; Ray has gone off to play a trivia game with our friends. I am not ready for that. I am barely here, only arrived a few hours back. Besides, I can’t remember the last time I was in this house alone. Well, the truth is our renter is here in her little apartment, but that doesn’t count since we’ve already had our “Hello, How you doing?” conversation and I don’t expect I’ll see her again this evening.

I am an introvert, believe it or not, and while I truly love people, I need my time alone to recharge. I don’t count Ray being in the house as being “with others” since we are comfortable going off to our separate spots for long periods of time. Still, like tonight, his extroverted self feels ready and willing to head off for group fun while I shrink at that idea. I need some time to regroup. I don’t mind writing this during that time, but please don’t make me go sit in a group of people right now. That does not sound like fun.

On the other hand, if this were the only time that I was going to see this people – which it is not –  then I would have sucked it up and gone. I understand the importance of showing up. I would go as far as to say that just showing up is about 99% of what is required for most of the important/difficult moments in one’s life, such as wedding, sick beds, funerals, etc. I would venture to say that you can show up and say the wrong thing and still people will appreciate that you made the effort. So many people I know won’t visit someone in the hospital because they don’t like hospitals or else they won’t go see someone who has just had someone die in their life (like a mother, husband, child) because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I am aware from my own life that the only thing you really notice if you’re on the receiving end of the showing up action is that the person is there. What they say is almost not important unless they say something so outrageously insensitive that it’s impossible to ignore. (Which most of us would never ever do no matter what the circumstance.)

Anyway, I am happy to be at our home here in Texas. I am happy to see all the progress on the multiple projects we’ve had going here, and I am delighted to settle in for the evening and get my sea legs before moving into visiting mode. By tomorrow, I’ll be all set. It’s just this first night after two days of busyness that feels so precious.

On that note, I’ll close.

I hope you are well, dear reader. Thank you for reading my ramble. I’ll be seeing you again tomorrow.

north texas

5-Star Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had these cookies the other night at a party. They were so good I asked for the recipe. The most surprising thing about them is that they are no-bake. Quick, easy and delicious. Hard to beat that combination.

If you try the recipe, please let me know. I would love to hear how they turned out.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup cashews

2 tablespoons coconut flour

3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Grind the coconut and cashews down to flour in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients (except nibs). Process briefly to combine. Stir in the nibs. Press the dough into a small plastic wrap lined container (making it as thin or thick as you like). Chill in the fridge at least 1 hour and then use a cookie cutter to make shapes or slice into squares. Chill in the fridge or freezer at least a few more hours. Dip into the melted chocolate and set on a parchment paper lined tray.

For a mint chip cookie: add a few drops of peppermint essential oil


1/3 cup melted cacao butter

3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave

1/3 cup cacao powder

Add the syrup to the cacao butter in a bowl that is set over a pot of hot water. Sift the cacao powder over top and gently whisk in until the chocolate is smooth.

Recipe by Chef Heather Pace,

heart cookies

A Memory of Mom…

Today I worked with a graduate student in Psychology on a paper on “Differentiation in Family Systems.” Differentiation is basically when children establish their own personhood that is separate from the family unit. I remember a moment when I was 13 when this concept played out in my own life.

When I was 13, I hated everything about my mother. The way she walked, talked, and even breathed. I’m sure this was evident to her in my sassy attitude, rolling eyes and long sighs whenever she said anything. Some of this was normal for an adolescent; some of it was born from my anger at her for going to graduate school and leaving our family (and me) for long stretches while she studied in one town, worked in another and lived in a third.

One day my mother, who was working on a Ph.D. in Psychology, sat me down for a chat. I don’t remember the occasion, but I do remember her words very well. She said, “What you’re going through is a developmental phase called individuation. You are becoming your own person separate from the family. This is not only normal but also important for your human development. I can promise you that no matter how much you dislike me now, one of these days, you and I will be friends.”

I remember feeling a huge amount of relief at her words. I felt guilty that I hated her so much. I was glad to know there was a word to describe what I was experiencing.

She was right. Over time, we did become the best of friends. Gone was the need to exercise my power to be different; replaced by my pleasure at having her near.

I was reminded today of how helpful it is to have ways to identify family dynamics in order to facilitate understanding. This is one of the true benefits of psychology and one of the great helps of psychotherapy.

I also am very aware that I was lucky to have a mother who was so tuned in to human behavior. This helped me to shift from guilt to growth and move forward to that time she had predicted.

I emulated my mother’s approach when my own children were teenagers and throwing all their irritation in my direction. I saw relief on their faces when they heard this was “just a phase.”

I am also lucky to have students who give me the opportunity to revisit information that was presented to me so long ago. Nothing like a discussion on individuation to spark memories of my mom. Yes, I was truly fortunate to have that sensitive and sensible woman in my life.


A Bit of a Ramble…

I am trying to think of something interesting to write about tonight.

I have had my boots on since 8 am – it’s 9:25 pm – and my feet are ready to be liberated. I can easily reach down and take my boots off, but I want to write instead so I am waiting. I keep hearing an alarm outside that is a high-pitched chirping sound. It must be someone’s car alarm, though I can’t imagine it would be very effective. Someone is clearly trying to turn it off because it is going on and off intermittently, as if they are trying, but it isn’t quite working. Right now, it is silent so maybe they figured out the problem. Nope, there is goes again. Oh dear…

Life has been full over the past week. We worked hard Monday – Thursday and then had lots of social activity all the way through today. I would love a day of just being home with nothing on the agenda so that I could tackle some of the tasks that get pushed to the bottom of the list when life is busy. For example, I would love to tidy up the room we use for our eBay business or tackle the garage and get it organized. I would be thrilled to have a full week of doing nothing but organizing around here. I could sink my teeth into that task and really get some things sorted out. Alas, that will not be happening for the next week or so. I have other plans on the agenda. But maybe at the end of next week I could get moving on those spaces. That would feel great.

I have come to learn that organizing is one of my major skills. I can walk into a room that is filled to the brim with all kinds of stuff and by the end of the time allotted I can have that room sorted out. This is an odd type of skill to have. I suppose I could market myself to hoarders or people who are chronically disorganized. I could imagine an ad that reads: “In need of help getting your life back in order? Well, I’m the person for you. Give me a call and we’ll figure out where and when to start.”

Come to think of it, I could use just that sort of person for my own life on an occasional basis. Maybe there is some marketability to that skill, after all!

Okay, enough of this ramble. I am heading upstairs to settle in for the night. These boots are coming off.

I hope all is well in your world, dear reader.

I will see you here tomorrow.

Until then…


Rachael’s Birthday Celebration

Today we went to the Griffith Park Horse Rentals and went on a trail ride to celebrate Rachael’s birthday. Luna had her own personal ride with the aid of her Daddy and her Grandpa. After the ride, we had a picnic in a big green field near the stables. The weather was perfect and the family was relaxed and happy.

Life is good.

Here are pictures from today:

Family Shot

group with Len


Family Shot with Natasha

group with Natasha

Getting geared up and ready to go

group in stable

The Luna Team

Dad and gregorio

Rachael, Natasha and Liz

horses rachael

Ron and Sarah

ron and sarah



Ray Taking a Rest


Liz and Luna

Liz and Luna

Liz and Rachael

Liz and Rachael laughing

Ron Making Some Serious Moves

liz and ron

Sarah, Gregorio and Luna

g, l, and s

I feel very lucky.

Happy birthday, Rachael.

Happy Birthday, Rachael

Today, my youngest daughter, Rachael, turns 24. It seems impossible to even imagine that it’s been almost a quarter of a century since that little baby arrived so quickly and easily at 7:40 am on a sleeping bag on our bedroom floor, delivered by a midwife. i was shocked when the midwife said, “Just one more big push.” I was expecting to push for at least an hour like I had done with Rachael’s two sisters. But no, Rachael was ready to greet the world as soon as possible, and there she was, all pink and wiggly, with big eyes, blinking as the morning sun shone in through the east window.

Tomorrow we are celebrating by heading to Griffith Park and going on a trail ride. Everyone except Grandpa and Luna, that is. They will be staying behind for a twenty-minute hand-led horse ride for Luna. Then we’ll sit in the park and have a picnic, complete with homemade peach cobbler and honey-sweetened whipped cream.

I feel happy, blessed, and privileged to have Rachael Marie Beaty in my life. She is genuinely one of the most decent people I know in the world.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. Enjoy your birthday party tonight with your friends. We’ll see you in the morning and see what it’s like to explore Griffith Park from the back of a horse.

Your mother loves you.

Bree and Rachael



rachael and bree