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Journal posts for CaySwann


Live Updates from Santa True and Mrs Claus


I have the good fortune to have a Sweetie who is a professional Storyteller and now a professional Santa. This year, I posted some “live updates” on the road between several gigs, just to friends on Facebook. They were so well loved, I have collected them here in one blog post. Enjoy!

* * * * *

Sunday, December 20, 2015 – 7:03 AM

When Santa is facing a daunting day, gallavanting around the known world, and it is NOT an office day job kind of day, sometimes Mrs. Claus grabs the day and makes it hers. We have five gigs today, two with tight travel times. I’m up, showered, dressed, been organizing my gear, answering gig lead emails [decline, sorry, already booked] for Santa, and will be starting my first cup of coffee after these stripey socks are on. On Dasher, On Dancer! #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

From a working weekend at the Farmers' Market
From a working weekend at the Farmers’ Market

Sunday, 8:34 AM

So then I packed for the day…

Ready for my day: Spinning, Reading, Snacks, Blankie, Hat #MrsClausTacklesTheDay
Ready for my day: Spinning, Reading, Snacks, Blankie, Hat #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Sunday, 11:05 AM

First Santa trip, arrived VERY early, parked briefly near beach to check messages and don the jacket on the Claus before delivering him to the door. Then off to Vons for free parking, bathroom break, and noms for the car. Answered another gig lead (sorry, decline, already booked), and texted next Appt to assure him we see him next. Back now to pick up the Big Red Man. 🎅

Sunday, 1:01 PM

Second gig: We got to town 90 minutes early so time for filling up the car with gas, finding a private bathroom for Santa, and enjoying a car picnic together before he suits up again. 💙⛄💙❄💙

Sunday, 1:36 PM

More fun for Mrs. Claus: Answering texts, emails from two inboxes, and messages on a FB page, while the correspondents on the other end are accidentally texting Santa instead of their Mom. *cue gentle laughter here* ….plus *lots of encouraging emojis* … Oh, and juggling two phones. 🙂

Sunday, 2:07 PM

What Mrs. Claus sees from a parked car outside a Santa appointment... #MrsClausTacklesTheDay
What Mrs. Claus sees from a parked car outside a Santa appointment… #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Sunday, 3:33 PM

Third gig: On the way, we realize we have an extra hour to find a Santa-safe bathroom. We also realize we are driving past a friend’s house in 10 minutes. One phone call later, we are safely off to see a dear, trusted friend for 5 minutes, just for a pit stop. Yay friends! Now we have arrived 45 minutes early, found a shady space behind a school sports field to relax in the car, text the hostess, and post to Facebook. Also, breaking Santa’s heart because we can hear the “sonar ice cream truck” and we cannot go buy any soft serve cones. Poor Santa.

Sunday, 4:01 PM

About to go surprise a house full of kids 💖💖💖
About to go surprise a house full of kids 💖💖💖

Sunday, 6:21 PM

Fourth gig. Arrived in time to search out restrooms and dinner. Poor competent manager was training highly incompetent new guy. Order took 12 minutes to fill. *sigh* Back to site, perfect parking lot to prep Big Man in Red. Customer phoned as I picked up phone to text her. Fingers crossed there are a lot of happy rhythmic gymnasts and gymnastic parents, on the Armenian side of town.

Sunday, 8:16 PM

Arrived 30 minutes before fifth and final Santa gig tonight. Gated community (didn’t warn us) but we were able to piggy back in on the car ahead of us (yay). Houses had *lighted* house numbers (yay) but no sign of *our* assigned house (boo). Nice host answered texts immediately, gave us directions (yay), and met us at sidewalk (ah ha, it *was* a hidden house behind the last one, around the blind corner). Big Man in Red back into fancy duds, Jingle Bell bandolier, and walk back to the waiting new hosts (likely some family brothers or uncles). Now Mrs. Claus waits and prepares to whisk him back home again, jiggedy jig. #ActionSanta #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Sunday,9:29 PM

Home from the final gig. Frozen things back in the freezer, cold things back in the fridge, furry velvet things soon to be on hangars. Details in spreadsheets to tally, tomorrow’s trip-tickets to print. But apparently the last family was filled with all the love and appreciation that gigs 3 & 4 were missing (because of wild, rambunctious behavior). Bonus for cross-cultural love: The Indian matriarchs in exquisite saris for photos with Santa. I cannot wait to see a pic or two from them, fingers crossed they may share them with us. 💖💙💖❄💙⛄🎅💖

Monday, December 21 – 7:55 AM

So. Sleepy. But, the handwashed Santa clothing was tossed in the dryer in the 4am hour, today’s trip-tickets were created and printed, showered and dressed in the 5am hour, dry shirt and gloves retrieved and put back for Santa, computer packed up, breakfast and coffee, the coffee fairies brought a fresh cup to Santa in bed, drive over the coastal valleys, sunrise view on the ocean, and now I am at the train station so I can relax for the last part of my commute. Santa has a long trip to San Diego and back today, and I can run errands on my lunch while holding down my day job. Spent part of my drive day dreaming about having a home with a washer/dryer inside. Oh, domesticity.

Tuesday, December 22 – 6:17 AM

The early-morning Mrs Claus fairy today fixed a button on the Big Man’s coat, updated an event printout with children’s names, found Big C’s reindeer umbrella, and sorted more email into folders. Lead Elf last night set up the trees at home so we have pretty lights now. 🎄🎄🎄

Thursday, December 24 – 3:15 PM

In the world of “Live Updates from Santa True and Mrs Claus,” today’s adventures are once again a five-gig day. Round One: Prep. Shower, nap, breakfast in bed (that was nice!), then laundry, computer work to finish up the trip tickets for the day. Santa braved the grocery store and packed the cooler of food snacks for our car picnics. Then a fresh bleaching of all the roots, and we have achieved SNOWY WHITE HAIR again. Pack the car, endure some small traffic, then up the windy roads near the Hollywood bowl, sorta. He’s in with children now, then we go back towards home for his 2-5.

Five minutes later

“Shower then nap” happens when you normally get up in the 4am hour and on a sleep in day you are wide awake at 6am so you shower early just because. Then you crawl back in bed and blissfully pass out until someone brings you coffee and breakfast in bed two hours later. 💛💛💛

Thursday, 3:57 PM

First gig a success, although funny thing afterwards. There was a round about down from the home, so I directed Santa to walk down the hill while I flipped the car around to pick him up. Suddenly the neighborhood was filled with people and cars. One Mom stopped to brag that her daughter gave up getting presents so she could buy presents for all the babies at the pre-natal ward. We stayed so they could take pictures with Santa. Then we had to wait for them to drive away so Santa could take off his coat and drive back down the hill.

The family at the first stop was lovely and very international. Santa and the Mom got to chat about Swedish Christmas traditions. Go international fun!

Thursday, 5:47 PM

There was a nice gap between gigs 1 and 2 today, so we were able to go home, heat up some sweet tamales, and have dinner before heading back out. Now we have arrived 20 min early before gig #2, and are patiently awaiting show time. Houses 2, 3, and 4 are back to back tonight, so it was nice to relax briefly indoors with food and coffee. #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Thursday, 6:15 PM

How #crafty Mrs Claus spends the time in the car, waiting between gigs... Getting ready to ply these singles. #textiles #spinning
How #crafty Mrs Claus spends the time in the car, waiting between gigs… Getting ready to ply these singles. #textiles #spinning

Thursday, 7:09 PM

Gig #3, arrived 20 minutes early and the dad was happy to have Santa come in 15 minutes early. It is very odd to realize how working-class my Sweetie is, working hard as a single Dad, and we live so *adjacent* to SO MUCH wealth. This home is not only in a gated community with a guard who needed to see our ID plus have our names on the guest list, but this is HORSE country. Huge, sprawling estates, large roads with room for horses to be out on the paths, and coordinated home signs with the street addresses and the family names on each. Santa works hard for the money, and these people can afford him. I suppose that is a good match. I will continue plying my handspun yarn in the car, in the near dark, by the light of the moon (and the phone screen keyed up to our next gig already).

Thursday, 8:29 PM

Our house was between gigs 3 and 4 and we had an hour but only a 15 min drive. So we stopped at home, quick bio break in privacy, said hello to the Boyo, and headed back out. Arrived 20 minutes early, had time for a quick car selfie then he’s headed indoors. I am in the car, grateful fory blanket and shawl… The temps are rapidly dropping and the wind has kicked up. It’s now about 49°F outside, but feels more like 40°F.

Thursday, 8:42 PM

….And the Sheriff just stopped to check on the “suspicious lady sitting in the dark in a car.” I explained that “Santa is visiting a home two doors down, for 30 minutes. No, not friends of our, he’s a professional Santa. Yes, there are five children there, and he’s here for 30 minutes. (Brandishes official paperwork for gig.) No sir, we don’t live in this neighborhood but we do live in [neighborhood only 20 minutes from here]. Yes sir, Merry Christmas to you, too.” #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Thursday, 9:05 PM

OMG the adorable nosy neighbors just came out to apologize and offer me a cup of coffee!!! Nice List for certain!!!

In a travel mug! Which they told me to keep!! 💖💖💖

Thursday, 10:04 PM

So house #4 absolutely adored Santa and sent him on his way with a Plate of cookies. Of course, I was able to say, “Would you like a sip of coffee with your cookies?”

House #5 was back again the other direction, past our house, so once again we were able to stop at home long enough for quick bio breaks, drop off the cookies and coffee (because, too many things to juggle in the car) and hit the road again. This last stop has a mom that has been *giddy* with excitement in her texts and emails. The dad met us out front (ostensibly out to go to the store) to sneak Santa in the back door. Then dad snuck back out to me (with the balance due plus a tip) and was headed back to go enjoy the Santa visit. He’s Jewish, so I am certain this whole evening has amused him greatly. I can only imagine what giddy-Mom is like. #ActionSanta #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Thursday, 11:24 PM

Plying in the dark, in the car, while out as Mrs Claus #crafty #textiles #spinning #MrsClausTacklesTheDay
Plying in the dark, in the car, while out as Mrs Claus #crafty #textiles #spinning #MrsClausTacklesTheDay

Thursdsy, 11:33 PM

And… We are home. Gear is stowed, and everyone in the house needs to get to sleep… Because if we are awake, we know that Santa cannot come by to bring presents and fill our stockings. *wink*

Goodnight, my dear friends.


Ideas about Organizing


Jan2: Ideas about Organizing #Mastery - "Make it Easy, Make it Fun." If not Easy, then Simple. If not Fun, then Pretty. #Guidelines
Jan2: Ideas about Organizing #Mastery – “Make it Easy, Make it Fun.” If not Easy, then Simple. If not Fun, then Pretty. #Guidelines

My friend Sarah sent me a link to Time Management as an Art Project. At first glance, it was not just an article to skim. I wanted to really digest the material. How do I learn? I take notes.

So I grabbed a notebook and made bullet points as I was reading. When I got to the Chronodex image, I had to draw it myself twice to really understand what they were going for. Certainly, if the author is recommending I use this as an artistic and organizational tool, I should know what I’m drawing. And by learning to draw the item and examinging how people have been using it (as evidenced in their Flickr images), I immediately figured out that (a) that’s too cumbersome for me and (b) the core idea is to have a visual record that YOU enjoy. I love color. Heck, I love color-coding! But I have occasionally tried to bog myself down to extensive tracking systems (by hand) and recognized that *MY* preferred methods are much faster.

In fact, the biggest trick in my organizational systems over the past two decades has been to ditch the old paper techniques (oh noes!) in favor of better and faster digital methods. As cell phones and computers get closer and closer together, there’s just no reason for me to have a large paper planner anymore. (Sorry, Franklin Planner. We had many good years together. And your emails and displays in Staples still tempt me. But my digital life is faster.)

But digesting the article (into my handwritten notes because, still, I think through writing [or typing]) did help me hit on the crux of the issues. I finally jotted two Guidelines to help me with decision making and organization.

The Guidelines

My first list:

  • Make it Easy.
  • Make it Fun.

My revised list:

  • Make it Simple.
  • Make it Pretty.

Why did I need a revised list? Because not everything that is Simple is Easy. In fact, many things that are Simple in principle are not that Easy to accomplish. Consider fitness plans. Simple = “Exercise regularly.” Easy = Skipping the Exercise. It requires Discipline, might even be considered Difficult = Prioritizing your day so that Exercise happens. Or consider housework plans. Simple = Wash all the dishes before bed. Easy = Go to bed with a messy sink.

Although I’d like to make things easy, I think I can agree that I can make things simple.

So the second principle I wrote down reads “Make it fun.” But again, not everything is fun. So if I cannot make it fun (emptying the trash regularly), I can work off the principle that it makes things pretty (look! a clean trash can! yay!) Taking notes might not be fun. But if I use the right color post-it notes or colored pens, the notes could be pretty.

Make it Simple. Make it Pretty.

What are your guiding principles? Are the simple things easy?


Word for 2015


Several ideas have been rattling around my head this week. And distilling the notions down to one theme word for the year has been harder than usual.

At first, I pictured the notion “Tying a bow” on something. This more than just moving from UFOs (a common acronym among knitters and other Makers for “unfinished objects”) to Finished Objects. I want to capture the fine details. I want *CRAFTSMANSHIP* in my work. I want those, “And then a miracle occurred” moments to show loving care, preparedness, mastery. Mastery of fine stitches.

In garb, I want an attention to detail. Full kits. Beautiful seams. Perfect shoes.

In dance, I want regular drills and rehearsals. I want classes (in classrooms!) that enrich my students. I want a website with beautiful photos of me in costume. I want well-fitted, custom embroidered cholis.

I want project plans, thoughtful lists, steps to completion. I want cozy work spaces that have my tools.

I want enough sleep. I want clean laundry. I want to repair any holes in garments.

I want a fine colander or mesh screen that catches the details in my life and helps me put them away. I want books on shelves, in order. I want boxes cleansed and sorted and condensed. I want to be ready.

Craftsmanship. Thoroughness. Finesse. Adeptness. Artistry. Polish.

And usually my theme word is an action, a verb, an inspiration. Or a Call to Action. Possibly “Refine.” Or, somehow that moment when you take skills and “make them look effortless.”

And I never see my words as expired. I still love my words from the past years: Dance. Focus. Create. So, I am simply adding the next word in a series.

(And I think this year comes with a sub-theme, which I knew immediately is COLOR.)

But I think 2015 is the year to add to a pursuit of #Mastery. And that pursuit will always be a part of my life. And it’s my theme for 2015.


a moment in pursuit of #mastery of new skills and growing skills
a moment in pursuit of #mastery of new skills and growing skills

What are Your themes for 2015?


Step Two: Magic Happens


Figuring Out Where the Magic Happens
Figuring Out Where the Magic Happens

If you have never seen the South Park episode with the “Underpants Gnomes,” I need to fill you in. The little gnomes have been stealing underpants. When the character most affected finally catches them in the act and follows them to their underground home, he finds out this has all been part of a business strategy. “Phase One: Steal Underpants. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: PROFIT!”

Phase Two not only never connects why stealing underpants would (or could?) ever results in PROFIT! but they never notice that missing phase two is problematic. They just see, “Steal Underpants… PROFIT!”

A very well-known mathematics cartoon shows two men at a blackboard. The instructor points to center of the student’s work that reads, “Then a Miracle Occurs,” and says, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”

(view the original S. Harris cartoon, displayed on his site [image 7 on page 1])

I have been thinking about how to achieve goals, how to prioritize tasks competing for my attention, or how to launch new ventures without failing in others. And I realized I could fall into the trap of, “DO ALL THE THINGS!” as my personal Step One. I will never get to “Profit!” if I leave out Step Two. One problem with “DO ALL THE THINGS!” is that it can easily spiral into a plaintive, “Do all the things?” followed by a resigned whimper.

(Note re: Do All the Things: The original blog post is titled, “This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult” and is written by Allie Brosh on her blog, Hyperbole and a Half. The original image is for “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS” which devolves later into “Clean ALL the things?”)

But What are my Step Two Tasks?

Here’s where the new ideas have started to form. The “use my strengths to build additional habits” is an old idea that I’ve been working for years. But what about this “Step One: Idea; Step Two: ___; Step Three: Profit!” notion?

I need more Step Two elements in order to get to my goals. And this is when I have to start to prioritize all the Step Two options. Sure, I could be making more flowered hair clips or painting or sewing a coin bra for bellydance or cleaning out the freezer. But is my Sweetie waiting for me to design a postcard? Are the poets waiting for me to complete my assignment for the publication that comes out at Coronation? Do I need to work on this spreadsheet or this website update or this hand-sewing on my linen costumes? Or should I go running for 30 minutes?

Step Two is important. Step Two candidates abound in excess. Step Two Priorities are now my biggest challenge. Which Goal, which “Step three: Profit!” am I working towards, and which people are affected by my success or failure on this step?

Apparently I cannot actually DO ALL THE THINGS. But I can start to improve *which* “Step three: PROFIT!” that I’m working on at the moment. Then I can prioritize the various Step Two actions I need to take.

I think my theme right now has just expanded to include “Step Two.”

(Note about Themes: 2012=DANCE, 2013=FOCUS, 2014=CREATE. I think I just added 5775=STEP TWO.)


My notion of #ThisBody #ThisDay


When I talk to people about teaching dance, many people seem to be very worried about their body limitations. “I have this injury,” or “I think I weigh too much,” or “I’m not as young as I used to be,” or “I’ve never been coordinated.” And I usually respond along the theme that you have THIS body on THIS day and we can work with that.

I “went for a run” last night. I put that in quotes only because my definition of going for a run may differ from other people’s definitions. But I want to avoid the negative self-talk that belittles my accomplishments. My own body limitations or habits or achievements are personal. My own fears and reluctance are also personal. And all this adds to my notion of THIS body on THIS day. So when I manage to go out the door to do something, that is still an accomplishment. I do no one any favors by talking down the accomplishment with remarks like, “Well, I ran too slow,” or “I wasn’t out that long,” or “It was just jogging, that doesn’t count as running.”


It most CERTAINLY counts. Because it was THIS body on THIS day. And my ability last night was LAST night’s ability. So it’s completely healthy for me to *claim* that achievement as “running” because for me, on that day, that really WAS going for a run.

And I love to explain that we are not in competition with one another AND I am not in competition with myself from a different day. There’s no need for me to feel bad for no longer being a 15-year-old training for the cross-country team. In fact, there are MANY ways I’m glad I’m no longer that 15-yr-old.

Also, I cannot hold on to last night’s run when it’s time for me to go running again. I wouldn’t say, “I showered yesterday. I don’t need to shower today.” No, I shower every day. I wouldn’t say, “I used deoderant yesterday, I don’t need it today.” Likewise, I have THIS body on THIS day. So what do I plan to do with it today?

Now, not every activity will be a daily activity. I plan to alternate when I focus on running versus other activities. My running muscles need to rest and recover in between increasing my stamina and ability. And I still track my walking mileage every day (with a fitbit) and I still want to see my overall walking, running, dancing, moving mileage total averages grow incrementally. But I can keep my sanity by focusing on THIS body on THIS day.

Likewise, while I’m not going to compare my body today with my body years ago, I’m not in competition with anyone else. I have no knowledge of what other people have for their challenges or their advantages. So their circumstances are not mine. Some of my friends have different medical limitations, family dynamics, employment issues, commuting challenges, obligations, heck even INTERESTS. Many friends of mine have no interest in dancing. Cool. That’s fine. Others have no interest in running. Cool. That’s okay. Others have been running longer than me. Awesome. Good on ya.

But for me, I have THIS body on THIS day. And that’s how I’m going to try to make decisions. Because honestly, I really like having THIS body on THIS day. That’ll work for me. I’ve gotten to know this body over the years, and we’re working well together.

From a dancing day in 2013
From a dancing day in 2013
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