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….

View from My Sleigh

 

 After multiple years of forcing my children to deliver Christmas presents, this year I did it myself. Because they disappeared just about the time they heard the empty tape dispenser hit the garbage can. And … because I wanted to. First time for everything. I’m not the door-knocking, visiting sort. Just a overage elf, sneaking up to the front door and leaving the goods. Made a few observations while tearing about town.

  • Say everyone living in your house at this moment (i.e. home from college, rehab, prison) has a driver’s license and a car. If there are more than two of you, the outside of your home looks like a garage. The mechanic kind – where you take cars to be fixed. Gives sort of South Bronx veneer to the very nicest of  neighborhoods.
  • Am convinced the recession skipped this area. (Not me, but everyone else). I have not seen as many mansions – serious housing – under construction, ever. I find this very confusing. Maybe some “numbers” type can straighten me out. Wow. Double Wow.
  • I LOVE those giant Christmas bulbs hanging everywhere – makes me feel like I’m on the set of BIG. Happy fun.
  • I noticed some homes that had been decorated to the hilt in prior years are void of any gay apparel. The homeowners are elderly now and I guess it’s too much to for them to festivate. Sniff, sniff. I would have helped them. There’s always next year, I guess.
  • It is unsafe on the streets during the day. Have almost been slaughtered too many times to count. By people who have no business behind the wheel. Some would say that would be me. But some can stick it up their nose. <meant in nicest way>

Better get back to the paper-tape-bow situation. More deliveries to make tomorrow. Please, please, PLEASE have a wonderful holiday. Really. Eat a bunch of food. Drink gallons of …whatever you please. Laugh as hard as possible. Remember the lonely and unloved. Enjoy the best way you can.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! MAY PERFECT PEACE DWELL INSIDE YOUR HEART AND OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR.

XO IZ

*p.s. Don’t be getting the notion I’ve gone all sappy here. Just bought The Snark Handbook and The Snark Handbook, Insult Edition. Brushing up for the new year, I am. *

Later.

 

Letter to My Daughter

Dearest Sweet Pea,

You will always be my baby. When I was pregnant with you, I was fearful. Fearful because I’d already had your sister and I didn’t know how I could love another baby as much as I loved her. Those worries evaporated the moment I first saw you. There is no measure for the love I have for you, my beautiful child.

As you know, this letter has been requested because you will graduate in May. And, as you know, I’m prone to whimsy. With that and this request in mind, I turned around and invited my amazing blogger friends to offer tips and advice for a young woman preparing to make her way in the world. Much of what you read here was graciously offered by these fine people. And so we’re off….

  • If it takes five minutes, do it.
  • Two words:  duct tape.
  • Always keep your eyes on your own paper.
  • Say, “I don’t know” when you don’t.
  • Live BIG. Paint your life with broad strokes using bold colors.
  • Keep your words soft and tender as you will have to eat them sometimes.
  • Don’t dig a debt hole and jump in.
  • You always have a home with me.
  • When you need to scream, go somewhere appropriate and do so.
  • Soon you will soon wake up – not go to bed – at 6 am.
  • You always have a choice, even if it is only a choice of your attitude.
  • If a man tells you that you are too good for him, believe it!
  • Skills to learn: change a tire, unclog a drain, drive a stick shift.
  • Know the difference between spontaneity (good) and impulsivity (not so much).
  • The ground is level. Don’t judge anyone unless you go to law school, pass the bar, get elected, and have a gavel.
  • Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
  • “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.”
  • Every rule has an exception.
  • Albert Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the universe.” There are no coincidences.
  • You have a million dollar smile. Go to the dentist regularly so you keep it.
  • “Men are like Government Bonds; they take soooooo long to mature.”
  • “Having it all doesn’t mean having it all at once.”
  • Trust your instincts. Period.
  • Always try to be present. And take deep breaths.
  • When you are hungry, eat. When you are tired, sleep.
  • Laugh as much as possible.

Enough for now. You are beautiful, bright, wise and kind, all wrapped up in a unique package of loveliness. Do not fret about the new world you will step into. I assure you, the best is yet to come!

You love me and I love you more. You will understand this when you have your first child. It would be nice if you married beforehand. But not right this minute as the money tree has been reduced to a weed.

Love you to the moon and back, Sweetie.

Mom

P.S. All “borrowed” jewelry, purses, shoes, dresses and anything else I don’t know is missing yet may be returned in June, which we’ll call “Amnesty Month”.

P.P.S. I’m sorry we called you “Cousin It” and “David Letterman” when you were little.

P.P. S. S. Did I tell you how much I love you?

A Backward Glance While Moving Forward

Reading a number of blogs this morning, I was struck by one headline. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make…” by The Reluctant Mom’s Blog. While I love reading all the funny pieces, I also appreciate those that provoke thought.

You decide to have children. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. This decision absolutely changes the course of your life.

You decide to marry, divorce, be a star, buy a house, go to church, take a huge risk, never make any decisions. And, although you believe you know what you are getting into, you don’t. So I think we make choices, which turn into decisions after the fact. Some good, others great, bad, and middle of the road.  Going a bit further, perhaps decisions are the consequences of our choices.  And, regardless of the outcome, those of us who have the freedom to make choices are the lucky ones.

It would not seem so, if we only focus on the mayhem induced by a bad choice or three. But I believe in scale, yin and yang, reasoning. So I have to say that although the end product of our choices can be our worst nightmares, we still had a part in it.

When I made the choice to divorce some years ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was acutely aware of what I was getting myself out of. And no matter what anyone else thinks, divorce is, to quote a friend, “like being in a bad car wreck every single day”.  Those days, whether they span a week, a year, a lifetime, are indescribably atrocious. Individually and collectively.  I would not wish divorce on any couple I know. But sometimes it is necessary.

My ex is a good person. We have two daughters, two very bright stars, to mark the absolute best that came from our union. And I will never, ever be sorry for getting married because these two girls make the world a better place to live in. 

It has been my experience, personally and from observation, that when the woman initiates a divorce, she is the bad cop. Of course there are many exceptions, but I’ve not witnessed more than a few. As the saying goes, “it takes two”, but, in an effort to make sense of it, most friends and frenemies feel they must choose sides, fuel the rumor mill, and unintentionally make the aftershock of divorce so much worse than it needs to be. Choices, all. My exposure.

To make a long story short, the personal gains have far outweighed the losses. And I am not the same person I was. During, after, and since my divorce, I chose to be misunderstood. I am a private person and the inability to remain married was strictly between me and my ex. The toll was heavy in every way. But everything comes with a price to pay. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Divorce scares the hell out of couple friends. It forces them to look at their own situation. And they don’t want to catch the disease. After the implosion of family, I think the hardest, most heartbreaking consequence was the loss of lifelong friends. Individual and couples. While they remained at the top of my grid, they quickly filed me in their “out” boxes. No longer a “couple”, a member of their clubs, a part of their gatherings.  After my family, my friends have always been the most important people in my life.  I was naïve. Loyalty is a given if I’m your friend.  Had no idea they would divorce me.  But good always comes from terrible.

There were the handful of friends who did not waver, who will always have my back. And, I have made so many new and strong alliances with amazing people I might have missed along the way. I now know what it’s like to be truly loved. I am not naïve about people any longer. While I still enjoy the occasional celebration with “the old gang”, I must admit that afterwards I usually wonder why I spent so much time mourning their disappearance. And it always comes back to the same conclusion: I believed them to be people they weren’t. My bad. But my good, because my life now is richer because of the people who are in it.

There will always be those days when my heart sinks, just for a minute. And that is awesome. Hearing about the activities and stirrings of my old life, still raging like a freight train with a full tank of gas, used to send me to bed for … however long. Getting that puppy down to a minute is progress, folks.

Even if it’s made one tiny step at a time. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make ….”. But it’s what you do with the consequences. This, in my mind, is what determines the wiggly course of your life. Dealing, learning, overcoming, changing, trying … all survival buzz words.

Later.

 

Watering Dead Plants

Sitting on my patio, I looked over to see three dead plants. The same three dead plants I’d meant to throw out for … months. Just lazy. Nevertheless, someone waters them every week. They are dead. Water is wasted. While it is an incredibly optimistic action – feeding something that will not eat in hopes it will magically spring back to life – it is, in the end, futile.

It’s all about change, isn’t it? Watering dead plants is symbolic to me. Resisting what you know to be true. Refusing to acknowledge what is, hoping what isn’t will resurrect itself. Change is inevitable in every inch of our lives. Feeding what was, what we knew and were comfy with, is at the very least, a waste of time. And energy. And emotion. Yet we do it sometimes, because change means … something new, something we haven’t welcomed in and snuggled up to. Miracles and epiphanies (small, medium, large) do not happen on demand. And watering the dead plants is a roadblock to anything happening. Life blockage.

When I was raising my daughters, many of their little peers had daily schedules that would rival – and exhaust – the busiest of executives. I opted out of this for a number of reasons. I knew there would be plenty of time for them to be overwhelmed and unprepared. So, when they would ask me what we were doing on any given day, my answer would usually be the same:  “Let’s see what the day brings.” And roll with it.

 I cannot for the life of me remember much – if any – bad coming from this “program”. But I do remember many days filled with surprises, relaxation, and activity. We didn’t water any dead plants. Because my girls trusted me. Because they knew if I was willing to roll with it, then certainly they could as well. Because they trusted me.

I’m not watering the dead. I will not honor the impossible by blocking the possibilities. It’s all about trust. And I am firmly convinced – even though I waver/stand steadfast – that a power higher than me has, once again, showered me with possibilities. My job:  trust. Keep eyes wide open.  The result?

 

Later.