Grateful

When my eldest was in preschool, her class did a project for Parent Night. Each child was told to draw a picture of what they were grateful for and the teacher would write their explanation underneath. The “grateful proclamations” were posted up and down the halls. As parents entered the building, there were the sweet drawings. Most of the artwork featured Mommy, Daddy, Siblings, and Pets. Searching for what Miss Peach was grateful for, I noticed a clump of parents around one drawing. Ah, there it was. My daughter was grateful for fried chicken. Just another proud moment.

While I find fried chicken tasty, I am grateful for:

  • My daughters, my parents, my sister
  • A roof over my head and food in the pantry
  • Friends, especially those “heart” friends I would do anything for and I know that feeling is reciprocal
  • My sweet little dog who loves me and never leaves my side … or feet, which can be a problem but he means well
  • The good mornings that follow bad nights
  • Freedom
  • Inspiration
  • The knowledge that I am not in charge of the universe. Breathe in, breathe out.  On those days when I feel I can’t handle another broken something, when I doubt I can put one foot in front of the other, when the forest is so dense and scary and thick I couldn’t find a tree if I walked right into it, there is comfort in the breathe. Peace comes eventually. And I remember the world doesn’t spin on my axis. Thank God.
  • A job I enjoy so much it doesn’t feel like a job
  • The ability to make a difference, however small, for the better
  • Hugs. There is nothing as comforting and necessary for the soul as the human touch. Many people are “starving” for this. So simple, so easy to give. And oh so easy to receive.

Later.

When Size Does and Doesn’t Matter

Large/Small. Fat/Thin. Ecstatic/Not so much. There are circumstances when size is mas importante, there are times when it matters not.

Size Matters

  • Size of bank account when paying bills.
  • Size of shoes – stuffing a size 8 into a size 7 and hobbling around = OUCH!
  • Size of the sky – city dwellers have a reduced view; if you look at the night sky anywhere in far West Texas, the stars begin at the ground and are so profuse, the sky part is minimal. This would be good for the soul. And beyond beautiful.
  • Size of airline seats – unless you are 11 years old, a long flight in steerage  the cheap seats can propel you right into a hip replacement. Practicing fetal position before boarding helps a bit. Plus, I think the airlines should put labels on the arm rests; even though they are as big as a clothes pin, which one belongs to which seat? Really! First-class and business travelers, feel our pain! Not really, you paid not to. Trade seats?
  • Size of parking spots – please don’t park a honking land yacht in a space marked “Compact Cars”. There is nothing compact about a Suburban or a Monster Truck. Except maybe the ashtray and I don’t think they make those anymore.
  • Size of heart, spiritually speaking – can it ever be big enough? Methinks not.
  • Size of smile – a big one goes a long way.

Size Doesn’t Matter (to me)

  • Size of your bank account – not my business. Keeping eyes on own paper.
  • Size of clothing – numbers make me crazy; if it fits, wear it; if not, give it away. Sizes seem to make a lot of people feel bad about themselves. Just stupid numbers, people!
  • Size of shelter – matters not a whit.Protection from the elements.What does matter is making that shelter a home. Favorite quote: “People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without a home.” I think home can be wherever you are.

Mushing.

See ya.

Later.

Habits to Kick with Both Feet & Habits to Embrace

“If at first you don’t succeed, you’re running about average.”

(Marian Hamilton Alderson)

“Average doesn’t cut it.”

(Me)

Note to self: do something, anything about the following:

    • Onion dip and potato chips are not a healthy dinner choice. If this is unavoidable, check out Clinton Kelly‘s recipe for homemade onion dip – it is beyond tasty.
    • Emotions are fickle; do not confuse with truth.
    • Finish one project before starting another. But there are so many, I get bored and am easily distracted …. oh, okay, take ADHD vitamin and focus.
    • When it becomes a choice to be kind or be right, always choose kind. Being right – and smug – ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. It is cracked. For me.
    • Always take bag when walking dog. Sometimes I forget and dog does his thing. This situation is sort of like stepping on a crack – no bag and business means I will step in it shortly.
    • Keep your friends close and your frenemies at bay. Yeah, yeah … the saying says keep enemies closer. Ridiculous. Choosing to have a bad experience over a great one? Not an option for me.
    • Make a comment instead of pushing “Like” button when reading blog posts.This is addressed to me – “like” is great, so no haters. I push the “like” button all the time. But am going to attempt to do otherwise; if bloggers have taken the time to write and I have taken the time to read their posts, then it makes sense for me to commiserate, congratulate, admire … whatever. But you are welcome to “like” me anytime you want.
    • Stop wearing clothes inside out. Happens all the time. Must slow down and look in mirror before exiting home. This sort of issue is crazy cat lady stuff. I don’t have a cat. And I’m not crazy. That’s a lie. A little bit crazy. Acknowledge contemporary insanity and slow down when dressing.
    • Lead with love and compassion. Yesterday, a woman came into the shop where I work. She was looking for a hat and veil for her best friend. Whose husband had passed away. Although we’d never met, we spent a good hour trying to find the perfect pillbox hat for her bereaved friend to wear to the funeral. During that time, we talked about any and everything. And when she left, tears were rolling down both our cheeks. She was an amazing example of leading with love. And a stellar reminder to me to do the same.
Dashing ….
Later.

Free Falling

Free falling. There are those times when you find yourself in a free fall. Gravity, disguised as circumstances, exhaustion, or emotions, just knocks your feet right out from under you. And you are free falling.

It’s not so much about the fall, itself, but that you stop it. This is NOT the time to go with the flow.

Catastrophizing, whining, blaming … these are not options but negative motivators (oxymoron?) that build nasty momentum. So, how do you stop the fall?

First, reach out. Grab some strong arms to hug you, seek loving ears to listen.

My very wise friend, Renee, would say, “Shift“. Look at what “pushed” you, shift your perceptions, and find the lesson. Emotions are fickle, not to be trusted”. Ms. Shay would say, “It’s all about will – your will, your choice – and you have abundant, positive choices.”

And then, the rest is up to me … or you. It always is. When I am in a free fall, it is often precipitated by control. Me trying to control anything, everything. And when anything, everything feels like I am herding cats, “tilting at windmills”, and bouncing off the same brick wall repeatedly, I know to stop. Just stop and listen.

Then, and only then, I hear Renee and Ms. Shay. And the Big Voice saying, “You are NOT on a crazy train that’s going off the rails. You didn’t buy that ticket. Simmer down.” And I’m no longer falling, but standing up, sorta straight. And remembering verses that are warm and fuzzy at the very least – to me:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find relief and ease and refreshment and blessed quiet for your souls. For My yoke is useful – not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant, and My burden is light and easily borne.” (Matthew 11:28-30, Amplified Bible)

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? (Mary Oliver)

Then I know that comfort, so momentarily elusive, will come.

And I begin again.

——————————-

*Big Voice would not be Ozzy Osbourne. But I do like “Crazy Train

Self-Medicating with Words

I will go to great lengths to make a day that feels “less than” feel “more than”. Today, I’m rolling around in the following quotes:

  • “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in a tent with a mosquito.” Regina Brett
  • “What motivates you more: a correction or a compliment?” Jenny Dintzler
  • “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe
  • “A belief has no power other than what you give it.”
  • “Happiness happens when you least inspect it.”
  • “Stay open all hours for miracles.”
  • “We are born at peace.”
  • “Happiness doesn’t always make you happy.” Gretchen Rubin
  • “It is better to sleep on what you intend doing than to stay awake over what you’ve done.”
  • “I’ll sing for my supper but I won’t audition.” Kaminsky & Penney
  • “Change happens slowly, then all at once.”
  • “What looks like an anchor may be wings.”
  • “Instead of treating people the way you want to be treated, treat people the way they want to be treated.” Regina Brett
  • “None of us have a crystal ball. We may feel like things are hard and we are stuck with a lemon today. But tomorrow could bring many beautiful things if our hearts are open and willing.” Divorced Girl/Vibrant Nation
  • “If you see a red flag, don’t try to make it magenta. What you see is the way it is. Believe it and act accordingly.” Magnolia Miller
  • “The best test of a person’s character is how he/she treats those with less power … the way you act when you can’t be held accountable, how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”
  • “All you need is love.” The Beatles

Now.

Later.

Now and Later.

Plastic Surgeon FREAKED Me Out

I went to see the best plastic surgeon in town … on a lark. If you had access to my bank statements, you’d know it was a lark. I’m a cat, curious and skittish. But more curious. And I wanted to see what this man would say to me. He’s known for “Sleeping Beauties”, performing facial surgery on women who, when recovered, look like they’ve had the best rest ever. And they don’t have those crazy Jack Nicholson eyebrows – the first tipoff that somebody’s been under the knife.

Made a consultation appointment and appeared at the correct time. After very little paperwork, I was ushered into surgeon’s office. He was nice. But he’s in his seventies and had no grey hair and very few wrinkles. Oh yeah, he’s a plastic surgeon. And here’s how it went:

Doc: “What are you here for?”

Me: “Well, you have an excellent reputation and I’ve admired your work. Am not loving the fine lines around my mouth and wanted to know what you would do?” (Why does he keep putting his left hand under his desk?)

Doc: “Well, you have a long neck so I would do a neck somethingorother and then a midline facelift. You don’t need body work.” (How would you know? I’m fully clothed sitting across the desk from you.)

Me: “My neck? Facelift? Draw me a picture.” (And stop putting your hand under the desk)

He proceeded to draw the scariest picture of the side of a head with stitches and scars everywhere. Enough!

Me: “That looks terrifying, not to mention the recovery would be heinous.”

Doc: “I’ll throw in the upper eyelids for $1000.”

Me: “Upper eyelids … I don’t even wear mascara. What? Forget the eyes, how much for the stuff you suggested?”

Doc: “blablablablablabla”.

Me: “So you’re talking $20,000 walking? Are you f-ing kidding me? No offense, and I realize it’s your job, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

Doc: “No, and you’ll probably need tweaking in about eight years. Show me your stomach.”

Like a moron, I pulled up my shirt and showed him my stomach. What in the living hell did a midline facelift+ have to do with my stomach? I must be on Candid Camera.

Me: “Thank you for your time. You’ve confirmed my intention to age gracefully = no knives near me unless eating. But good luck – for every one of me, there’s ten you”ll “fix”. Yeah, you!”

And for the record, Dr. Demento, keep your hands where I can see’em AND hahaha, my stomach is none of your business, surgically speaking.

Oh, and if I decide to take him up on his offer in the next year, my consultation fee will be deducted from the 20K. I have happily eaten $75 with my own knife and fork.

Later.

*Unlike Nora Ephron, I feel great about my neck!

Stop Being A Mother?

I am a mother.

Mercifully, I still have my own mother in a time when the majority of my friends have lost theirs. My mom and I have most certainly had our differences over the years. Big emphasis on differences. But she’s still my mom, and I know that she has always done the best she could to be a good mother. And no matter what my age, I will always be her child.

Many times, I’ve wanted to yell and scream at her, especially when she tells me what I should and shouldn’t do. But I’ve lived long enough to know that she just wants to help, and what sounds hurtful and critical is not meant that way at all. She wants to be relevant in my life, she wants me to be the best person I can be. So, I must let my interpretations of what I think she is saying fall through my mental sieve, and love her. It’s just the way it works for me. Time and experience, wasted anger and rage, have taught me to be the daughter of the woman who would give her life for me. At the end of the day, it’s all about respect. And the fact that my dad would probably whoop the living hell out of me, even at this late stage of the game, if I treated her with any disrespect.

My two daughters are the two best people I know. We get sideways sometimes. I’ll have an issue with one, and after exhausting the topic and getting nowhere, I’ll talk to the other about what I can do – or not do. Mothers are like that; we want our chicks to thrive in the best possible circumstances. And I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, unwarranted comments and offered advice has been misunderstood as hurtful criticism. This part of the mother job is the hardest. And that is an understatement.

Both of my daughters are adults. They are living adult lives. Yesterday, my youngest daughter and I got into it via text; she lives in another city and is making big decisions about the next few years of her life. I wanted to find out where she was in the decision process. Long story short – it ended badly. My opinions weren’t wanted, and I made it worse by pushing and pushing and pushing. Driving home from work, I felt like my skin was going to fall off, I was boiling inside. She was the one who, as a toddler, would press her face against the window and cry hysterically when I had to leave for work. She was the one who would throw up whenever I left town. But she’s an adult now. I forgot.

I’d invited my eldest daughter over for dinner last night. I was still in a swivet when I got home and the story of the day spilled out. She said, “Mom, you’ve got to let her go.” I’d never thought about it that way, but she’s right. The lessons always come from the most surprising places … and circumstances.

So, no matter what, I will always be here for both of them. For the tearful phone calls, for the requests for advice, to feed them when they are hungry, hug them when they are sad, laugh with them when we are amused, help them whenever necessary. Yes, I have to let them go. Hard but doable. This “freeing” process is going to take much discipline on my part. But I’m going to give it my best. I’m quite clear what letting them go doesn’t mean.

I will never stop being their mother. No matter what. Ever.

Be happy. Your choice.

Later.

Milestone Playlist in Three-Part Harmony

This is a story in three-part harmony.

Drove to Austin listening to my current favorite playlist.  My youngest, McPaddie, was graduating from UT. My solo road trip was extra fun because I could sing at the top of my lungs. SWEET. This morning, I jumped in the car, turned on the tunes, and headed home. SWEET and SALTY. What a difference 24 hours make.

One: BeforeWoke up yesterday morning at Austin Ann‘s peace haven. Something is off – oh, haven’t had coffee yet. Drink my body weight in java, read Nora Ephron‘s, “I Feel Bad About My Neck” from cover to cover. Jump in shower to wash off oompa loompa tan and get all gussied up for the Big Event. The second I see Ann, I tear up. Her baby just graduated from UGA, my baby will have a diploma in a couple of hours. It was a mom moment. Lots of deep breathing.  Fairy Godmother, Poob, arrived, we put our high hoofs on and off we went.

Two: During –  Met up with Miss Peach (eldest daughter) and her dad at the venue. Each school has a commencement ceremony; we were in an enormous venue for The School of Communications.

Yep, we were going to be there for hours. Poob‘s daughter graduated from Stanford; Oprah gave the commencement speech. We were anxious to find out who we would be listening to. Opened the program and OMG. The address was being given by a guy who dated one of our friends in high school and was engaged to another friend after college. I immediately sent a text to both women: Craig Dubow is the SPEAKER!” Furious texts flew back and forth between Austin, Houston, and Fredericksburg. I mean, he does have cred – Chairman and CEO of Gannet Co., Inc. Whatev. We had most excellent seats and McPaddie was front row. She walked, we screamed, and two-and-1/2 hours later we hooked our horns,  sang, “The Eyes of Texas”, and piled out into the Texas heat. Pictures taken all around amidst a throng of other picture takers. My graduate was one happy camper. Another mom moment – proud. Off we went for drinks at the W, very cool. Then Skywalker, the graduate’s fab love muffin, met us at Eddie V‘s for dinner. All great fun, saw the world, including friends we’d gone to UT with. Poob and I left the younger ones at that point; we’d been in graduation mode for 12 hours and it was closing time – for us. This morning, we left Ann with smooches, had a bite with the grad, hugs and smooches all around, and we headed in three different directions.

Three: After – Driving out of Austin for the umpteenth time, I turned up the tunes and pressed the pedal to the metal. But this time, it was different. My oldest has a big life in our home town. The youngest isn’t coming home. They are both amazing. We’ve all experienced a milestone. Listening to the music, tears started falling out of my eyes. Happy, proud, sweet tears mixed with some salty, sentimental mom water. Deep breathing. Nothing is impossible. Life is good. Mysterious, but good.

The Playlist, in no particular order

  • “Raise Your Glass” – Pink
  • “Don’t Stop Believing” – Journey
  • “Gimme Shelter”– The Rolling Stones
  • “Stronger” – Glee Cast
  • “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns N’Roses
  • “Heads Will Roll” – Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
  • “Born This Way”– Lady GaGa
  • Dueling Guitars” – August Rush movie
  • Defying Gravity” – Idina Menzel and Lea Michele
  • On The Floor”Jennifer Lopez with Pitbull
  • Someone Like You” – Adele
  • “Learn To Fly” – Foo Fighters
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynrd
  • “Shout It Out Loud” – KISS
  • “Daughter” – Loudon Wainwright III
  • Mercy” – Duffy
  • “I Was Made To Love Her” – Stevie Wonder
  • “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley

As for the three-part harmony ……..

Peach, McPaddie, Cita/iz

 “A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.”

Blessed two times over, I am.

Later.

Home

 

OMG. Have been a shut-in for too long. Having the flu is a good reason to stay inside but it’s gone to my brain. I just cried my eyeballs out WATCHING AMERICAN IDOL. Before you delete me permanently, let me explain.

This contestant, a brilliant young man with a big old voice, came on stage. I barely glanced up from my computer. And then he sang … and the tears started. He sang, “A House Is Not A Home“, and he sounded just like Luther Vandross. I love this song and I realized, while he was singing, it explains what I cannot. Tried in the past, but just keep it to myself now.

“A chair is still a chair

Even when there’s no one sitting there

 But a chair is not a house

And a house is not a home

When there’s no one there to hold you tight

And no one there to kiss goodnight.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote this; enlightened men, indeed. But that’s not my point.

I have a house.

I want a home.

Just Because: Do the Math

 

This life is full of emotional math. One minute, you are whistling a happy tune, walking on the sunny side of the street. Blink. You are at a dead-stop in a silent place you cannot identify. And there are no signs and there are too many signs, indicating where your next step should be.  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Math did not come easy to me in school. Life does not come easy to anyone. But, subtraction is overcome by addition, division by multiplication. This I do know. Just because.

Latest lessons (using “I” only because it is easier; feel free to insert “you” anywhere):

  • Just because … I can’t see doesn’t mean I don’t want to. Often times, we are irritated and impatient with others when we believe they are beating a dead horse, not moving fast enough, lazy, playing the victim. Guilty. Add compassion.
  • Just because … you find yourself “lost” does not mean you will not be “found”. Subtract despair, multiply hope. 
  • Just because … you face the unknown on all fronts does not mean anything other than you may be at the doorstep of the best life you’ve ever known. Negative thinking is easy. Divide it into smithereens, erase, and add amazing possibilities to each and every half empty glass in your possession.
  • Just because … you perceive a situation one way doesn’t mean it is true. A friend told me she’d recently seen another friend; instead of stopping to chat, the other friend turned and went a different way. Friend #1 had hurt feelings. What friend #1 didn’t know is that friend #2 was in a state of grief and despair, unable to talk to anyone at the time. “Things” usually aren’t what they seem. Isn’t this the spot where we subtract ego and add mercy?
  • Just because … I do what must be done does not mean I am “strong”. It means I don’t have a choice, a receiver going wide to catch my pass. “A joy shared is doubled, a sorrow shared is divided.” Subtract judgemental attitude, add empathy and provide a shoulder for the “strong” so they have a place to lean.
  • Just because … you reach out to a friend and the friend blows you off doesn’t make that friend a bad person. We all interpret needs differently. May I remember I am never too busy, too tired, not interested, or too self-absorbed to set aside all that to grasp a hand extended to me. Add discernment, subtract agenda. Multiply with love.
  • Just because … someone doesn’t operate the way I think they should doesn’t make me right. Intolerant and judgemental? Yes. May I remember that most everyone is doing the very best they can. This is not a hall pass for the intentionally harmful; but it is a reminder to me that I can add a whole bunch more kindness, love, consideration, and patience when dealing with most everyone.

There is always a learning curve, isn’t there? And the road goes squiggly just when you think you’ve got a most excellent grip on your life. But it is in the releasing that grip on what wasn’t, opening your eyes, your hands, and your heart to whatever comes next … well, that’s where the lesson is. And God knows, I still have much to learn.

Just because….