Surrender 132: I Can See Clearly Now

At the age of 14, I got contact lenses to correct my near-sightedness and astigmatism. The happy day those little discs went into my eyes, was the day I threw my glasses away. I’ve not owned a pair since. I occasionally wear non-corrective sunglasses, but even that is rare. 

It’s more than just vanity. I don’t like wearing glasses because my ears are uneven. Having one ear higher than the other isn’t noticeable, until I pop on a pair of glasses. They slant across my face, and with continued wear, rub painful raw places on the top of one ear and on the side of my nose. 


In the years since, the contact lenses arrested my astigmatism and halted the worsening of my vision. I’ve never had to increase the prescription. And I’ve continued to wear hard lenses, switching to gas permeable ones 35 years ago. It’s amazing, but in 44 years I’ve only owned four pairs of contacts. It’s taken me this long to lose them all! 

I was down to my last set of lenses when I broke one of them while in Scotland 18 months ago. I had a moment of panic. The trip of my lifetime, and suddenly I have one good eye! Thankfully, I discovered that my vision wasn’t all that affected by having one contact, which I switched back and forth between my eyes. This was great, as it did not negatively affect my trip. This was bad, as I felt no urgency to get a new set of lenses. 

In fact, I began to wear my contact less and less. When I’m home for the day, I often go without the lens, only wearing it when I leave the house. I feel better driving with the correction the lens provides. 

Two nights ago, while coloring, I removed the contact lens and placed it temporarily on the table next to me. And promptly forgot about it, for almost 24 hours. When I suddenly remembered, the lens was no where to be found. 

I’ve looked for it. Several times. My very last lens is gone. Today, needing to drive this afternoon, and every day for the next week, I considered my options. My inspiration, until I can see the optometrist and get new contact lenses, was to borrow a pair of glasses from Greg. He graciously loaned me a pair that he rarely wears, and for the first time in 44 years, I sported corrective lenses today, while driving. 


The frames are a bit too large for my face, but I could see clearly as I drove, which was my priority. To most people, wearing glasses is a non-issue. For me, this was huge. I have hated glasses. I have hated myself wearing glasses. I had to accept myself in glasses, without judgment, and be okay with being seen. 

I picked up my grandson Dayan from school. I had intended to have the glasses off when he got into the car. But he surprised me, appearing from behind the car, and I didn’t get them off my face in time. As he slid into the front seat he asked, with surprise, if I was wearing glasses. He knows how I feel about them. 

I had the opportunity to tell Dayan my story about losing my last contact lens. In sharing, I realized I wasn’t upset with myself for my carelessness, although I accept full responsibility for it. Rather, I recognize that this is a gentle nudge from the Divine to get myself to the eye doctor and get new lenses. I’m way overdue. And what a surrender for today, to accept myself, wearing glasses, uneven ears and all. 

As we parked in front of the Chinese restaurant, to pick up Dayan’s customary Wednesday afternoon meal, I handed the car keys to my grandson so he could drive us to his house. “Yaya,” he said, with an encouraging smile, “you are just going with the flow.” 

He’s wise, this young man. And he’s right. I am choosing to stay in the flow of life. The inspired clarity I received today improved my eyesight, allowing me to drive safely, and brought aspects of myself into sharp focus. I could see outwardly. And I got to gaze inward. Who knows? When I visit the eye doctor to order new contacts, I might even order a pair of glasses. 

Surrender 131: My Greatest Gift

I debated today about what to surrender to…a movie night to complete the Best Picture nominated list of films? Or sharing thoughts about a subject nearer to my heart, facing fear and freeing what lies behind it. I checked the list of unique holidays for today and discovered that this is Trust Your Intuition Day. That was the green light for my second consideration, because intuition is very connected to that part of my journey. 


I saw the quote above six years ago and it resonated deeply with me. I was determined to face my greatest fear. And I knew what lay guarded behind that tightly shut door. My intuition. Ironically, it was my intuitive side that also created my fear, a terror that grew as I did. As a child I didn’t understand my intuitive nature. Things happened to me that didn’t happen to other people. I saw and heard and knew things they didn’t. 

My fear of my abilities caused me to attempt to shut that vital part of me down. And when that failed, I hid it, sequestered my intuition away, dividing myself into a “normal” side and a “weird” side. But fear took root. And having no outlet, it encircled my heart, and grew stronger. I became terrified of the dark and of being alone, especially at night, of unexplained noises and negative energy that I could sense but felt helpless to do anything about. 


Five years ago, I knew I had to at last face my fear. I wanted to be free from the terror. I wanted a whole heart. I was weary of being afraid. So I stopped. I refused to be afraid. And as I suspected, intuition was behind my greatest fear. And so much more. 

Learning more about my intuitive abilities actually helped me to move past the fear I had around it. Intuition is, simply, the ability to understand something without conscious reasoning. It’s instinctive, and often unexplainable. We all have intuition and experience its gifts. We think of a friend, and she calls moments later. We lose a ring. And dream about its location, finding it exactly where we dreamed it would be. We feel uneasy as we drive to work and take another route, only to hear later of a major accident on the street we normally use. This is intuition at work. 

As I’ve released fear, I’ve learned to embrace my intuitive side, and trust the information I receive. I don’t have to understand why I have the gifts that I do, or why I receive the information that I do. I can’t control my intuition. I can only surrender to the fact that this is who I am, and trust what this sense tells me, just as I trust my other senses. 

The amazing discovery that I made during my journey beyond fear was that my intuition wasn’t the only thing shut away. Locked behind my greatest fear I also found my four year old self. She created the door that kept the fear at bay. She made the vows to take care of herself, to be as invisible as possible, to never cry or ask for help. Freeing my intuition has freed my young self. It has been very healing to nurture her and mother her and integrate her into my whole self.


Therein has been my greatest gift. I was concerned that embracing my intuitive side would mean that I had to do something with it. And yes, I am a realtor who can sell a client a house and also tell him whether the house is haunted (full of negative energy), or not. I can walk alongside others and help them clear away their own fears around their abilities or help them understand themselves at a deeper level. I sense energy. I have strong hits of premonition. But I’m not called to be a psychic. That’s not my role in life. 

The greatest gift that I uncovered, that little Cindy released back to me, was creativity. With intuition came inspiration. The two are closely linked in me. As my fear melted away, as I embraced who I am, and lived out of a whole heart, I found again my desire to write, to create, to follow curiosity. Opening to my intuition resulted in an opening of that fun and imaginative side of me. And for that, I am deeply grateful. 

Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant, and has forgotten the gift.” 

I am glad that I found my gift again. 

Surrender 130: In Celebration of Quirkiness

I’ve long known that I have quirky traits. But if I had any doubts, I’d only have to be an observer of my own life to have the proof. 

I have a garden that looks like this:


And yet I buy fresh flowers at the market for my spring vignettes. Why? Because I don’t like to pick my own flowers. I’d rather have them alive in my garden instead of dying in my house. The market flowers are already cut. I don’t mind bringing them home. That’s a quirk. 


Here’s another one of mine…I dislike dolls. Even as a child I despised them, preferring games, trains, and chemistry sets over any type of doll. Except Barbie dolls. I didn’t mind them so much. 


I allow the doll pictured above to reside in my house because she’s vintage, belonged to a family member…and her teeth aren’t showing. If she had a wicked grin on her porcelain face, she would be living with one of my kids! 

I thought a lot about quirkiness today. I looked the word quirk up. Its origins are unknown, but the word first came into use early in the 16th century. It’s original meaning was “an unexpected twist or turn”. 


I love that. Quirky is when the ordinary goes slightly askew, off center, takes a detour and becomes extraordinary. I hid my quirkiness as best I could for a long time, attempting to blend in and appear normal. And how dull is that? Fortunately, I have had great people in my life who were unafraid to be who they were, quirks and all. From the high school classmate who floated beautifully through life, not caring what anyone thought of her totally out of style (and very cool) clothing choices, to creative friends who create unusual and thought provoking art, to lovely souls within my own family who are equally insulted by the label “normal”, I have been encouraged to be who I am. 


So I’m ok with myself, and that I like snakes and spiders, but not slugs. I accept that my sense of smell is unique. I can tell when dinner is ready in the crockpot by the way it smells. My nose can detect the difference between a plant I want to keep in my garden and a weed by sniffing a crushed leaf. And speaking of senses, I have a sixth one, that I call my spider sense. I’m aware of an invisible network of energy around me, sending information to me similar to the way a spider is alerted when something brushes against her silken web. I’m intuitive and empathic and animals and kids are drawn to me. My dreams are lucid and I can change them, rewind them or stop them at will. I am…quirky. 

You might be quirky if you love to explore, if curiosity compels you, if you have amazing ideas for crazy inventions or unusual books. Quirky people don’t  follow the crowd, create their own trends and fads, don’t mind being alone, and love to try new things. Quirkiness frees the mind and heart to take the road less traveled, allows the body to dance to music only it can hear, lets the imagination soar. 

It also draws criticism, snickers and looks like this:


It’s okay if quirks aren’t understood or appreciated by anyone else. 

I’m grateful that when I chose to embrace who I am, and live from a whole heart, I also embraced my quirks. I don’t hide any more. Accepting my quirkiness allows me to see and accept and applaud other people’s quirks. It’s a daily celebration, of gifts, talents and quirks, of extraordinary life in all its strange and wondrous diversity. I am partying on. 

Surrender 129: Mother’s Day Legacy

As I’ve celebrated Mother’s Day this weekend, loving on others and being loved on, I have thought about all the strong and influential women in my life. In my journey, I’m in the esteemed position of having generations before me to appreciate, mothers and grandmothers, and generations after me to encourage, children and grandchildren. 

Granny Grace, baby sister Linda, and me. 

Grandma Mildred and me. 

My grandmothers are gone. However, I was blessed to have them both, well into my adult years. These women hugged me and supplied bowls of ice cream and homemade cookies, played games and taught me to sew and crochet. Beyond being fun grandmothers, they modeled for me independence and perseverance, kindness and devotion. I still think of both of them often, as I carry their wise words with me through life’s circumstances. 


I am so grateful for my mom. No one else has had as great an influence on my life as she has. My creative side has been nurtured by her my entire life. And even greater, she has lived her life creatively, writing, gardening, sewing, sketching, owning several businesses, making crafts and DIY projects. She didn’t live this way for my benefit. She lived as her authentic self, pursuing her interests and passions fearlessly, which was the greatest invitation I could ever receive, to do the same. 


Jerri became my stepmom when I was eleven, and she has been a strong influence in my life as well. Although I have never experienced being a step parent, I have welcomed new grandchildren into my family, embracing them as my own flesh and blood. Jerri has modeled blending families together, to create a larger stronger family. Beyond just nurturing my sisters and me, Jerri also embraced my mother. I don’t know if my mom, stepmom and dad realized how incredibly precious the gifts of unity and respect were to me and my sisters. When my friends spoke about the hate and animosity between their divorced parents and new step parents, I felt deep gratitude that in my family the adults lived in a bigger way. I am grateful for Jerri and for her willingness to create and maintain a different kind of family. 


Leta became my mother-in-law, my third mom, when I was 18. She had two sons and she excitedly embraced me as her daughter. Leta was one of the most gracious and generous women I have ever met. She modeled love to me, by way of her actions. She cooked delicious meals and luscious desserts, made crocheted blankets and enjoyed surprising me and later her grandkids with gifts that she spent hours shopping for. She had a child-like sense of wonder about the world that she never lost. However, she was strong, a survivor of losses and illnesses. I am grateful that she taught me that circumstances don’t determine how I live life. She chose to respond to challenges with faith and joy. I choose to follow her example. 

There have been and continue to be many other strong women in my life…aunts, cousins, sisters, friends. We honor and nurture and mother each other. And when I have needed to, I have mothered and nurtured myself. When I faced my fears a few years ago, I was able to nurture the frightened four year old who cowered within me. I am continuing to mother my wee self, and the results have been incredible. 


One of my greatest joys in life is being a mom and Yaya. When I was still a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up and become a mother. I have never taken this role lightly, praying earnestly to be a joyful mother of children, long before my babies arrived. My first pregnancy ended very early in miscarriage, something I didn’t talk about until fairly recently. I named that baby Daniel, making me the mother of four children. I have had the pleasure of raising three…a son and two daughters… and I couldn’t be more proud of the beautiful adults they have become. 

Elissa and her husband Josh. 

Nathanael and his wife Megan. 

Adriel and her fiancé Nate. 

Today, as I reflected on motherhood, I am exceedingly grateful for the experience of parenting and nurturing these children. They have helped me to be a better person. They have encouraged my growth. They cheer me on in all my endeavors. 

As I journey with them and observe their lives, I have seen my older daughter Elissa switch careers, learning new things and stepping up into greater responsibility. She and Josh are so very present for their sons, showing up for events and awards. As Dayan nears the end of high school, I see his mother preparing him for life beyond living at home with his family. 

I have watched my son deal with high stress situations in his career and life, with grace and strength, his wife Megan at his side. They too are involved in the lives of their children. In spite of long hours working, keeping his community safe, Nate takes the time to have lunch at school with each of his kids. 

My younger daughter worked for years to achieve her desired career. She’s very good at what she does, showing great compassion. I watched yesterday as Nate brought their car to a stop, and Adriel hopped out to rescue a turtle who was slowly crossing the street. She carefully placed him in a grassy area, away from the dangerous road. Nate does the same thing often. It’s who they are…caring people. 


Being a Yaya to my five grandchildren has magnified my joy. As a little girl, longing to be a mother someday, I couldn’t imagine anything greater than that. I possibly couldn’t imagine myself being so old that I’d be a grandmother! I have become the person that I so looked forward to spending time with as a child.

I am coming full circle, in my journey, from a girl with powerful women in my life, to the grandmother who desires to show her granddaughter and grandsons how to live a life full of love and joy, creativity and strength. These kids are continuing the task of helping me grow into the kind of person who can live such an open and authentic life. They inspire me. 

Surrounded by such brave hearts…grandmothers who still journey with me in spirit, mothers, and sisters…I can offer with confidence from my own heart to my children and grandchildren. I have a family legacy that I want to pass on. 

Surrender 128: Mother’s Day Eve Game Night

I’m having fun with my mom and sisters this evening. It’s a pre-mother’s day get together that has included soup dinners from Panera, lots of chatting, a game of dominoes and laughter that brought tears to our eyes and made us unable to catch our breath. We’ve all taken a vow of silence concerning what started the hilarity. 


We are still playing dominoes and laughing, at 11:30 pm, enjoying this time together. So here are a few pics from the ongoing party. We may giggle well into the night. 

I’m not complaining! 


Surrender 127: Corn Dogs for Aubrey

I had the pleasure of having lunch with my granddaughter Aubrey today. Much to the chagrin of my grandsons, who will be in school about a week longer, today was her school’s last Friday of this school year. We celebrated the end of school and the beginning of summer with lunch from Sonic. 


Aubrey requested corn dogs and a grape slushie, a meal she wouldn’t normally have at school. The first words out of her mouth as we slid into our seats was the revelation that today, the school lunch was….a corn dog! She found that irony funny. At least the school wasn’t serving slushies too! 

Lunch times are very short for elementary school aged children. The kids have 20 minutes to get their lunches, eat and line up for recess. I understand the reasoning for the shortened time for eating. It just goes by so fast. I encouraged Aubrey to eat while we chatted about a variety of topics. 

No time to pose for a pic…I caught Aubrey as she was taking a bite! 

All of my grandchildren are great conversationalists. They share easily about their lives and ask questions about mine. Aubrey and I spoke about the end of school, summer vacation, friends, family, and how I know everyone! Aubrey thinks that because I know several of the teachers at her school. I love watching this bright girl’s eyes sparkle as she talks, and her expressive face. She makes me laugh and stirs my heart with her tender concern for others. 

That 20 minutes flew by. One of the teachers in the lunchroom gave Aubrey 5 extra minutes since I was there. As the other first graders were lining up to go outside, Aubrey slurped down the rest of her purple slushie and gathered up her trash to throw in the big bin. I had already hugged her and kissed her good bye and managed to capture a quick selfie of the two of us. 

Still seated at the table, I waved to her as she dusted off her hands over the trash bin and turned to trot across the cafeteria to join her classmates. Suddenly Aubrey swung around and ran back to me, a big grin on her face, her arms spread wide. I received the wonderful gift of another hug, a kiss and an “I love you” before she scampered off. 

I’ll be having lunch with my three younger grandsons next week, as their school years are concluding too. Dayan, at almost 17, is happy with Chinese food after school. These are precious times. I’m storing up treasures in my heart. I might have left Aubrey at recess with a smile on my face and a joyful tear in my eye. 

Surrender 126: No Ego, Just Magic

This afternoon I had the opportunity to plant flowers for my mom. This was an activity planned for last Saturday, before I was diverted to the hospital where Mom was being admitted with double pneumonia. As I arranged plants in various containers, I enjoyed visiting with my sweet mother, who was released from the hospital last night. She’s tired and still coughing and oh so happy to be home. 



I had a few plants left over, after filling Mom’s flower pots, that I took home with me. Nothing goes to waste around here. I added those begonias to the assorted remnants camped out on the picnic table in my backyard. 

After completing my day, which included delightful time with granddaughter Aubrey, I returned home, just as the sun was sinking. This is a magical time in the garden. It’s the cool of the day. I love wandering among the plants and containers. I only intended to water the transplants and the container plants. And then that little group of left over plants caught my attention. 

To me, the plants looked forlorn, not chosen for containers and creative projects. The last of the coleus, the leftover verbena in mismatched colors, the odd numbered begonias, a lone petunia. I wasn’t dressed for gardening, but the light was fading. I pushed up my sleeves and pulled my long hair back into a pony tail. And I was humming, rummaging through pots and containers, to see what I could create. 

As I worked, my hands digging in the rich dirt, I had a garden epiphany, a life epiphany. The plants simply did not care that they were the last to be planted. They didn’t feel forlorn or rejected or neglected. Those were old feelings of mine stirring. The last coleus, with its variegated leaves, looked strikingly beautiful in a copper container that I had forgotten about. 


And the three remaining gazania don’t mind sharing space with portulaca, a combo I’ve never considered. The two very different varieties of flowering plants aren’t competing, feeling horrified at being together in the old red and white enameled wash tub, or fighting to dominate. There’s no lack. They have all the nutrients, water and sunshine available to them that they need, and they are just being…being flowering plants, growing, stretching toward the sun, radiating beauty. 

The left over verbena don’t care what color their blooms are or how they are mixed together in the second enamel container. The red flowered verbena will be red, and the purple one, purple. And I am the only one who will be surprised to discover what color the “mystery” plants will be. All will offer exactly what they have to offer, without ego, without apology, without effort. 



As I finished up for the evening, leaving a few more plants to tuck into pots tomorrow, I thought about whether I can do the same…offer to the world exactly what I have to offer, without ego, apology or effort. Can I just be, as these plants do? How grateful I was for the realizations from the garden. And then I laughed, accepting that the plants don’t care whether I learn from them or not. They are what they are. They are mirroring my thoughts back to me and it is the Divine who whispers, “Cindy, consider the flowers…” 

There is a Zen saying that Alan Watts shares:

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection; The water has no mind to receive their image.” 

They do what they do, beautifully. The plants do not intend to raise my awareness and enlarge my heart. They do what they do, beautifully. I am still and thoughtful and full of joy as the sun disappears and darkness falls. I am surrounded by deep magic. 

Surrender 125: Gluten & Sugar Free Cocoa Banana Cake in a Mug

My mom was dismissed from the hospital today, thankfully. As I sat with her there the past few days, we talked about many things, including the intention to be as healthy as possible. I’m going to walk alongside my mom to help her create some healthy changes, especially in her diet. This has been my journey recently as well. 


I know how important it is to limit inflammation in my body. And one of the best ways I can do that is by eliminating sugar from my diet. Sugar is not my friend. It is toxic to me. I’ve been doing well drinking celery juice, and prepping ahead lunches and dinners based on whole foods. And yet I enjoy a treat now and then. 

Tonight I was excited to try a healthier version of cake in a mug. These quick and easy treats are cooked in a mug in the microwave. I found a great recipe to try on Pinterest and I had the ingredients on hand. 


INGREDIENTS
(Makes 2 mug cakes)

1 overripe banana

1/4 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons organic honey or agave nectar 

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1⁄4 cup chopped nuts or dried fruit. 

PREPARATION

Mash the banana in a small bowl with a fork. Add the nut butter and egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in the sugar and cocoa and stir until smooth. Fold in the add-ins. Divide the batter between two mugs. Don’t fill the mugs more than half full. Microwave separately for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes each until risen and firm. 


The cocoa banana treat turned out great even though I used too large of a mug. A regular sized mug would be perfect. Rich with a cake-like texture, the dessert had a dark chocolate taste that wasn’t too sweet. The single serving was just right. This will be a warm and wonderful occasional treat to have with tea. 

I love when I do something good for myself that impacts me in a healthy way. I much prefer the feeling of satisfaction over feeling guilt for a poor food choice. This evening’s experience was fun and tasty. I’ll be searching for more healthy dessert in a mug options. 

Surrender 124: Garden Meditation

Today I was intentional about spending time in my garden this evening. As I moved through the day, working this morning and visiting with my mom at the hospital, I considered how to best savor those moments. I was excited about planting and hanging the vintage cone colanders and creating a permanent space for the minnow bucket candle holder. 


I set that intention this morning and surrendered to it. During the day, as I was in the flow of possibilities, two other elements clicked into place, creating an amazing opportunity. I learned about gathas. And I looked at the online holiday site, curious about what unique celebration might be available today. 

Gathas (pronounced gattas) are short poems or verses that are recited during routine activities throughout the day. They are designed to return us to the present moment, helping us to be mindful and aware. In his book Peace is Every Breath, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “When we settle into the present moment, we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes. Reciting gathas is one way to help us dwell in the present moment.” In his book, Hanh includes gathas for many ordinary tasks, including gardening. 


When I looked up the unique holidays for today, I discovered that May 3 is Garden Meditation Day. It all came together…my desire to be in the garden this evening, the use of gathas to practice mindfulness in the present moment, and a celebration focused on meditating in the garden. Isn’t life beautiful?

Meditation doesn’t have to be practiced sitting in a lotus position with eyes closed. Meditation is the awareness of what’s going on, right now, in my body, in my breathing, in my feelings, in my world. Garden meditation is the act of focusing on what I am doing, moment by moment…digging, planting, creating, watering and even pulling weeds. As I garden, I don’t dwell on the garden of the past or project toward a garden of the future. I remain right here, in the garden of right now, enjoying each task. 


As I mindfully dwelled in my garden, I created little flower containers from the two vintage cone colanders. Greg secured the colanders to the wood fence, using heavy duty staples. I cut a 14″ round coco fiber liner in two and formed each half into a cone shape, which I then slipped inside each colander. I filled the containers with potting soil and tucked in white impatiens and trailing dichondra. I LOVE the finished look. These are so adorable and they were so easy to create. 

I filled two battered metal buckets with flowers, setting the containers on and near an old wooden chair. The colander planters are secured on either side of the chair. Above the chair, the minnow bucket hangs from a sturdy hook, completing that garden vignette. 


As I meditatively planted and watered, I mindfully recited gathas: 

Planting

I entrust myself to Earth/Earth entrusts herself to me/I entrust myself to the Divine/The Divine entrusts itself to me. 

Watering

Water and sun/green these plants/When the rain of compassion falls/even the desert becomes a vast fertile plain. 

Lighting the candle within the minnow bucket

Lighting this candle/offering the light to the Divine/the peace and joy I feel/brightens the face of the Earth


I am refreshed by my meditative time in the garden this evening. The gathas were simple and beautiful reminders that kept my awareness on what I was doing. And my creativity was fully engaged, free to play. It was the perfect end to the day. I look forward to writing my own gathas. However this one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s resonates:

Ending the Day

The day is ending/my life is one day shorter/Let me look carefully at what I have done/Let me practice diligently/putting my whole heart into the path of meditation/Let me live deeply each moment in freedom/so time does not slip away meaninglessly. 


Surrender 123: Movie Review: The Big Short

Tonight I watched Best Picture nominated movie number seven of eight, The Big Short, leaving the winner in this Academy Awards category for my final film next week. I deliberately saved tonight’s movie until almost last. Of all the Oscar contenders, I was least interested in this one. I’m a realtor. I’m familiar with the housing market crash of 2008, having experienced the crazy boon before and then seeing the aftermath. I didn’t think I’d enjoy watching a movie that told the bigger story. I was wrong. 


The Big Short stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, John Magaro, and Finn Wittrock. This biographical dark comedy, based on the book by Michael Lewis, was directed by Adam McKay. Rated R for pervasive strong language and brief nudity, the movie has a run time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. 

The Big Short was nominated in five categories including Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Bale, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, for which it won an Oscar. 


Michael Burry (Bale), an eccentric former physician, is socially awkward. However as a Scion Capital hedge fund manager, he has a keen ability to see what others can’t. His scrutiny of thousands of mortgage loans reveals a housing bubble that is about to burst. Burry bets against the continued success of the housing market, meeting with the biggest banks and mortgage holders in the US. The banks are happy to accept his proposal, confident the housing market will never fail. After all, who doesn’t pay their mortgages? 


Jared Vennett (Gosling), with Deutsche Bank, hears of Burry’s plan and shares his beliefs. An errant phone call to the wrong institution connects him with a group of investment partners headed up by Mark Baum (Carell). Baum, who is an idealist disillusioned with the whole financial institution, agrees to join with Vennett. Their combined research further uncovers that most mortgages are overrated by bond agencies, with banks collating subprime loans into AAA packages. 


And lastly, a pair of startup investors working out of their garage reviews a prospectus of Vennett’s and want in on the action. Charlie (Magaro) and Jamie (Wittrock) aren’t big enough players on their own, so they enlist the financial perspective and aid of former investment banker Ben Rickert (Pitt). 

These three groups of investors work from the premise that the big banks are stupid and don’t see the impending collapse of the housing market. As the impossible begins to happen and the market shifts, these men discover how deep mortgage deception goes and how large the negative impact will be. Not only will millions lose jobs and homes when the housing bubble bursts, the economy of the world will be affected.


This was a fascinating movie to watch. I thought I wouldn’t like it because being a realtor I know what the crash of the housing market did. However, precisely because I’m in real estate, this true story had a great impact on me. I found myself exclaiming to the tv screen, as new information was revealed, as the depths of fraud and greed and deceit were uncovered. I can’t lie. Watching this movie made my heart race, in an agonizing way. 


The film was extremely well done, with outstanding performances, especially by Bale and Carell. The tone was quirky, and so were the characters based on real people. I liked how the technical jargon and concepts were humorously explained using well known celebrities who taught by way of concrete examples.

The Big Short amazed me, making me laugh, grimace, cheer and even tear up. I’d like to watch the movie again, to gain an even deeper  understanding of what happened in 2006-2008 in the housing industry. 

There’s a quote that appears on the screen that says, “The truth is like poetry. And most people f…ing hate poetry.”  The Big Short holds up the light of truth and uncovers the mess that deception tried to hide. At the end of the movie, more truths appear as words scroll across the screen. Recent truths. I’m carefully pondering those words, very much impacted by this great film.