Make the Love

I had a wonderful weekend. We celebrated both grandkids’ birthdays. We laughed, spoiled, loved, gossiped, and enjoyed the company of parents, grandparents, great grandparents (grandpa is 90 next month!) my grandkids, friends with their kids and grandkids, plus a couple of dogs thrown in.

Today I read the following column at Ask Amy (http://tiny.cc/za2wmy)….

DEAR AMY: I have four adult children and three grandchildren. They all live 2.5 hours away and have very successful, fulfilling lives. My husband and I couldn’t be prouder. They usually call every week or so and I send an occasional text or email. The problem is our daughter-in-law, who wants nothing to do with us. She is the mother of our only grandchildren. She refuses to visit, especially on the holidays. When we visit, she is pleasant but seems to barely tolerate us.

We want to see more of our grandsons but we are not permitted to babysit, and if I ask to take them to the park, etc., she ignores me, hoping I will let it go (which I do to keep the peace).

I have spent many a sleepless night trying to figure out what I have done to her and cannot think of a thing. Honestly, in the 10 years they have been married I have never said a mean word or offered advice, even with new babies.

I say nothing to my son. I know he sees her treatment of us and feels guilty, but fighting about it isn’t worth it to him. The boys love to see us and I have heard the oldest asking if he can go home with Grandma and Grandpa and Mom always says no!

This made me very sad.

I don’t know the daughter’s side, I don’t know the grandparents’ side. But to keep grandparents from enjoying the best time of their entire lives —

What happens to families?

I know I take for granted the love and affection I share with my two sons and their kids. Love, friendship, all come naturally for us. We’re not all like two peas in a pod all the time, mind you, but we enjoy each other’s company and get together whenever we can.

Grandparents are the old souls, the old angels, leading the innocent young angels through the mess we call life. We try and lighten their burdens, play their games, listen to their secrets. We give them a safe space their parents can’t, just because they’re parents.

It’s a parent’s job to protect, guide, and teach their precious packages to ensure they make it through life with a good head on their shoulders.

It’s a grandparent’s job to spoil, cuddle, play and dream with those same packages, ensuring they make it through life with good dreams in their heads.

I look at Dear Amy’s question and my heart breaks for everyone involved. The grandkids will never have that close relationship with two people who love them so much; the mother will never find peace with the mother and father of her husband; and the grandparents will have to deal with empty arms and empty dreams.

Like I said. I don’t know the whole story — I never will. There is nothing I can do to change that family and their sorrows.

But what I can do is share this story so that you will go home tonight and hug your kids and grandkids and when you see your friends or your sister hug their kids and grandkids. Play catch or Chinese checkers with them. Tell them a story of when you were a kid.

Don’t just take the love — MAKE the love.

 

 

 

Be A Good Grandparent

There’s so much of the world I don’t understand. A lot of it I don’t want to understand. A lot more than I should understand but I don’t.

I started this blog earlier, but it got so preachy and moralistic I couldn’t tell who really wrote it. So I wanted to try one more time.

I went to a Grandparents Day at my grandson’s school last Friday. It was a blast — there were soooo many grandparents there! We all were great moral support for the K through 5 group. Being on two different ends of the age spectrum, I couldn’t help but be invigorated by the enthusiasm and innocence and goofiness of those 50 years younger.

And I wondered.

Where does all this innocence and enthusiasm go?

We all are inundated with the madness of the world: politics, gangs, superstars, billionaires, mass murderers. The list goes on.

And I wondered.

Were these people ever innocent? Were they ever caring, giving, loving?

When did they take the wrong turn in the road?

I look at my own sons. They are different from each other yet they are the same. One is a controller, one works for a restaurant. One is single, one is married. They both have pasts I’m not 100% ready to know (as -I- have one they don’t want to know).  But they made it through high school and college, not much worse for the wear, and we still communicate.

I look at my grandsons. Will they buckle under the pressure? There are a lot of mean kids out there. All sizes, colors, ages and classes. It doesn’t take much to be mean; you can be merely spoiled or off center or just picked on yourself. Everyone goes through the ups and downs of puberty, but some get turned around so much that they never come out the same.

Women have unrealistic expectations thrust at them when it comes to looks and families and men are pressured by salaries and careers and showing up for their kid’s baseball games. We don’t make the rules — we just hear them from other people. We all are pressured to be more, do more, make more, live more.

What happens when more is not enough?

I looked at the innocence of the kids at school and envied them for the moment. For their moment would soon change. It has to change in order to deal with the madness grownups have created.

There are rewards to being older, of course. We know our way through the world, more-or-less know what we want from life, and eventually realize that it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks. Some of us get there at 30…some at 60. Some never get there, always worried about what others will think or say.

I hope my grandkids are spared most of that mind chatter. I hope all of the grandkids on Grandparents Day are raised in a stronger, more accepting world. Help when you can, don’t make bad choices, forgive and move on.

I never had a Grandparents Day — I never knew my grandparents, period.

I wonder if that would have made all the difference in the world. It did with my husband. His grandparents were heroes in his eyes. And no doubt they adored him back.

I hope I have the same effect on my grandkids.

 

Granny Goes Gaelic

Green sparkly nail polish. Check. Green sparkle newsboy cap. Check. Green beads with green plastic shot glass at the end. Check.

I’m getting ready to do my favorite thing in the world on St. Patrick’s Day — go to a Gaelic Storm concert.

Gaelic Storm is a great pub band that sings happy music and drinking music and brings the memories of my Irish mother to the forefront. Their musical output includes traditional Irish music, Scottish music, and original tunes in both Celtic and Celtic rock genres. It’s a great time, great music, and a great experience. Every time. The audience is a mixed bag of sexy girls and Irish boys and middle-aged wannabe Irishmen…

…and me. Granny.

I become the woman that is embarrassing to be around.

THAT woman.

The pudgy granny that wears all the cliche St. Pattie’s Day adornments, including this year an Irish-leprechaun-cat-riding-an-Irish-unicorn t-shirt. With hand-painted sparkles.

I don’t know what gets into me. My mother was a McCarthy, her father from Ireland. I was a shallow daughter — I never asked her about her family, her heritage. Nor her fears, her dreams, or her disappointments. I justify my inadequacy at knowing more about my parents to the times. My parent’s generation were not the chatty kind. I guess World War II and the Depression can do that. But I loved her dearly and I know she loved me, so that counts for something.

These days I try and make up for my shallowness by embracing the world my mother came from. I know it’s mostly imagination and fantasy, but there is a direct connection to Ireland in my blood, and I want her to know I’ll never forget.

So I dress in green and sing along with every Gaelic Storm song and pretend I’m in a pub somewhere in Ireland and my mother is not far hanging with her father from Ireland and mother from Scotland. I sing  and “Hills of Connemara” and “Tell Me Ma” and “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe in the Head.” I sway with the gentle ballads and clap until my hands are raw and always sit on the whiskey side for “Me And the Moon.”

The best thing about all this Irish nonsense is that, for one night, we are all one. We are not old or young or black or white. We are one vibration, one thought, one dream. We are simple people singing simple songs. There is no wall, no wiretapping, no conspiracy. All there is is music, love, and laughter.

No one looks strangely at the old lady with the sparkly hat; no one laughs at the green Mardi-Gras beads or the Irish Unicorn on the t-shirt. They see a dreamer, a fellow groupie, a singer of Irish ballads and bawdy drinking songs. We will all share a green beer and green heart and our souls will glow with Irish blessings.

And after all is said and done, I will hang up the hat and put away  the nail polish and hum “Kiss Me I’m Irish” while I drive to work. And I will leave Ireland — and my daydreams — behind.

At least until Irishfest in August.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

 

 

Get Together Now!

mihai-criste-tuttart-2Driving up north to our 10th (or so) annual Ski weekend has me thinking about family and friends and how important they are in my life.

Do you do any “annual” things with your family or friends?

You should.

We have our Polish Sausage Making Party every year — those that participate say we’ve been doing it for 15 years. I look back on my life and remember the girl’s shopping weekends we used to take just so we could stay overnight and drink and eat and gossip and not drive. Further back, I remember fishing trips I used to take with my family; sticking bamboo poles in the muddy bank, playing hide and seek in the woods, and whispering about the strange old hobo man that lived in this nasty little shack down the road.

I wish our minds held more memories, don’t you?

I know I went places, did things, with family and friends. I get glimpses camping with my oldest being only 1-year-old, of taking my in-laws to Las Vegas two weeks before my mother-in-law served divorce papers to my father-in-law. I vaguely remember spending a week out in Seattle visiting a girlfriend when I was younger, and another week visiting a friend in Texas.

But that’s all I remember.

I didn’t take many pictures back then. The cameras were clumsy, and who wanted to bring film to be developed all the time?

These days my phone camera is full. There’s not a get together I don’t try and snap, a sunset I don’t capture. And that includes this ski weekend.

As I get older I find I’m forgetting more and more — not so much a dementia thing, but I’ve got 560,640 hours of experiences in my head. A bit much even for a human computer to recall.

That’s why doing things with family and friends is so important. So many of us hide behind the ego’s judgement of “they should call me” or “they didn’t invite me.” So we therefore skip over thinking or calling or doing something with those who really make our life full.

I learned long ago that it doesn’t matter if I’m the one who’s always calling. So what? Some people have quirks in their personality that stand in the way of their desire to do the same. It’s the same with planning things. I’m always “complaining” that I’m so busy all the time, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Being busy means interacting. Growing. Discovering. You can’t do that locked up in your house behind a computer screen.

I encourage those of you who are on the bring of making plans to MAKE THEM. Don’t let whose turn it is spoil the possibility of a wonderful time. And wonderful memories.

One day your memories will begin to fade, and all that will be left is the smile that was created the day it happened. And if you’re lucky, that’s a hell of a lot of smiles to keep you going.

Happy Valentine’s Day

thIn going through my PPL (Past Post Library), I noticed I’ve never once written on Valentine’s Day about Valentine’s Day.

Why do you think that is?

I do have a husband that I’ve Valentined in my heart for over 35 years. I have two great sons that also deserve my Valentine, along with a sweet daughter-in-law, her great parents, two sets of great best friends, and my two Valentine grandkids.

But somewhere along the line I never connected my love for them with Valentine’s Day.

I know it’s a holiday created by Hallmark, another way to cash in on human emotions. Nothing wrong with that. Candy, flowers, heart-shaped cakes, all fall into the going-the-extra-mile for your sweetie. There are online articles about 10 Valentine’s Day Flowers and their Meanings, Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Box of Chocolates, and other romantic inklings to set the mood.

The love of my life has never really given me anything for Valentine’s Day. And that’s been over 35 years. Am I insulted? No, not really. I knew 35+ years ago that he was not the roses and chocolates type. And that was alright. It still is. For most of my life there was so much more we could have done with the $50 he would spend on flowers or wine. My Valentine’s Day gift would be an extra pizza in the grocery cart or rent a movie from Redbox.

Times have changed. We are in a better financial place than we were 10, 20, even 30 years ago. Our Valentine’s Day money went to taking my grandson to see the Lego Batman Movie. That was fun — that was love.

Yet…

Three girls at work today had flowers delivered to them. Does that bother me?

Well, a little.

I could say that my hubby shows his love for me in other ways…

…he gives me money to go out and buy my own flowers.

I guess that’s Valentine’s enough for me.

Flash Fiction Dreams

41524-autumn-leaf-heartOctober is for Dreams

 

This flash fiction piece was inspired by my first novel (yet to be published), about a woman who drives through a cornfield, crashes into an old oak tree, and wakes up in small town 1880.

Was it a dream? Or did it really happen? Who is to say?

 

Pretzel Dawn

Her car streaks down the highway in the granite dawn, her heartbeat matching the thrum of the tires. Fluorescent pinpoints from distant skyscrapers become nothing more than blurred starlight as she madly races towards her destiny…a destiny she has waited to fill longer than she can remember.

A sliver of apprehension cuts into her thoughts. A foreboding, like a ghost crossing her path.  Why is it an effort to remember the number of the exit? Why does the city in the distance waver as if seen through crackled glass?

Metropolis turns into suburbia and then into country, yet she cannot slow down. Eventually the Buick veers from the concrete onto the tarmac of some long forgotten road lined with the skeletal remains of fall.  Her window is open, the last breath of night air chilling her, thrilling her.  It’s not far now.  Instinct drives her forward ― instinct and desire.  He is somewhere ahead, pacing on the dew-covered grass beneath the maple archway. Watching. Waiting. She senses the sparkle of his chocolate eyes, his scent of sweat and hay and the muskiness from his turn-of-the-century charm.

The road ahead is shadowed.  She doesn’t remember the giant oak tree on her last drive through this part of the countryside, nor the weathered barn in the distance.  She cannot remember many details of her last visit — but it doesn’t matter.  Her heart pounds faster as crimson streaks highlight the horizon.  She cannot bear to let him slip away again.  Not without a word, without a touch.  He is dark and deep, passion and fury, a flicker of days gone by. He said he would wait for her, and she promised to return.

The car’s acceleration slows, and tears of frustration well in her blue eyes. She is lost.  Too many turns. Too many distractions.  She cannot tell cliffs from moors, fields from meadows.  The dark crimson glow over her shoulder is now a soft magenta ribboned with blue.  She is running out of time. Hills to mountains to boulders along the side of the crushed gravel road, yet this has to be the way. The road twists in a pretzel design, dead-ending at a forest dark and primeval.  She drives to the maple archway at the edge of the wooded glen and stops.

He stands at the hedgerow, a masculine glow in the twinkling dawn. She fumbles and stumbles through the tall brown grass and into his arms.  She has made her way back through time. Her need reaches out to him in the pale light of morning, his response soothing and gentle. His loving words curve and twist around her soul and down into the abyss of her dreams, curving and twirling and tumbling and swirling until they slowly turn into echoes from a conch shell.  Eternity disappears in a starburst of angel wings, only to reappear as the soft drone of the morning alarm.

 Once again, she has returned. Awake. And alone.

 

Best Friends

my-friend-tamar20-28344922-795-595Do you have a best friend?

You know — someone who knows all your secrets, keeps all your secrets, and shares all their secrets. Someone who doesn’t care what you look like, how much money you have, or what you snack on before you go to bed. Someone who loves you, funky wardrobe, personal hangups, and all.

I look back on my life, and see a number that fit that description. A neighborhood girlfriend when I was small. A couple of girls in high school. Another who went with me to the dances at the Navy base in my very early 20s. Different jobs, different besties. 3 or 4 when my children were babies; one or two from my various jobs. I have been blessed to have had their friendship. I don’t talk to but a few these days, and even then a year can go by without a face-to-face meeting.

I have been thinking about all of this since my footing in Bestieland right now is not as solid as it used to be. Different callings often mean different directions. And sometimes the parameters of friendship change.

What does “best friend” really mean?

I am inclined to think the terminology and significance of it changes through your life. When I was younger it was important to have a “best” friend. That buddy that was almost attached to you at the hip. What you bought she bought. Where you went she went.

As you get older, your parameters change. You don’t necessarily need to be attached at the hip, but it’s great to have someone to drink wine with or go to hang at the park with you and your kids.

Different jobs through my life have provided different Best Friends. From grade school to high school to my file clerk job in my late teens to downtown Chicago in my late 20s to my besties when my children were babies — all were gifts in my life at a time when I needed them. These people came into my life for a reason. As I did into theirs. And often, when you have learned and grown from having this person in your life, it’s time to move on.

But does someone always have to move on?

I look back to my grade school years. L was my first real best friend — until she wanted to go play with A, who was older. My Great Lakes Navy Base besties married Navy men and shipped off to who-knows-where. C worked downtown with me, but when the company folded, so did we. D and L and J  and I were all besties when we were raising babies. Living near each other they hung together, but because I moved to another state, I didn’t.

Was I better off knowing all of them?

No doubt.

Were they all  my “best” friends?

Definitely.

As I grow older I understand why being best friends is a two-way street. You need to give and take. To support and clarify. To be willing to correct and be corrected. Best friends hold onto each other because their souls feel good together. And you don’t need to be attached at the hip, either. Just knowing the other person is a phone call away makes life a little easier.

My besties are at the same point in life that I am. Women who have learned and felt the things I have. Women who take me just the way I am yet encourage me to be much more. We laugh and cry and jabber together just like my friends and I did 40 years ago.

Einstein’s time line doesn’t exist for those whose hearts have connected. Whether that connection was years ago or yesterday. Let go of the ones who let go of you, and hold onto the ones who stay.

It’s not the space where best friends used to exist that matters, but the space in which they will always exist that makes you whole.

 

You Rock!

einstein-1When I started this blog back on April 18, 2011, I must have had 20 blogs already written ahead of time. That’s how excited I was. Before I started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, I probably had 10 or 11 artists on hold. That, too, shows how excited I was to get started.

Now days I am more of a on-the-spot blog writer, sharing the Goddess’s humor as she calls. Which is all the time. And my Art Blog’s collection is doubling all the time as I find more and more unique artists to showcase.

This is what creativity is all about.

Doing what you love. When you want to. Because you want to.

I don’t have an anniversary to celebrate, or moment in time to highlight today.  All I wanted to do was thank you all for supporting me, reading me, looking at my art. Telling your friends. Or just checking me out yourself.

I can’t believe there are so many branches to Creativity. I’ve talked to quilters, sculptors, painters, publicists, graphic artists, gardeners, writers, poets, photographers, calligraphers — all sorts of artists with all sorts of stories. Everyone has a different story, background, reason for exploring their creative side.

Think of the things you can create! Dragons, spaceships, murderers, gardens, parentless heroes, ghosts, musical prodigies, statues, symbols. You can change history, travel through history, interpret history. As an artist there is nothing you can’t do.

This is why I encourage all of you to “do your thing.” Know your base is strong and expand from there. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the arts. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.

I just wanted to take time to than you all. For your friendship, for your curiosity. And for your encouragement. I hope we hang together for a dozen more years. I hope you continue to enjoy my art and my pretzel-logic mind. You inspire me, and I hope I do the same for you.

Huzzah!

 

If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time

tumblr_o4739ljd9n1tp0mqvo1_500I was writing a blog for work today, talking about how music can bring memories of days gone by. And it got me to thinking — if you could turn back the hands of time, what would you change?

I already hear whispers of “I wouldn’t change a thing” or “I love my life just the way it is” or “my scars have made me who I am today.” All of that is good and well, but there is always something we wish we could have done, changed, said.

There are few things I would change about my life. I love where I am, I love my family. Knowing me, I would have loved a different husband, different children, different grandchildren. Love is love. I was not popular in my younger younger years, but I feel my heart has grown into a beautiful maple tree because of that.

But things I would have changed — there are always a few.

I would have gone to college. Back in my day (what a cliche!) half the girls went to college, half got married. Although I didn’t get married I did fall in the second half. Maybe I didn’t have the money at the time. Or the inspiration. But since I’ve always been a writer and an artist, I should have learned more about both. It most likely would have led me down a different career path, but it would have been more of a career and less of a job.

I would have put more effort into saving my bed and breakfast. It was a gorgeous house, a dream come true. I owned it for 7 years, always moving backwards financially instead of forward. Instead of trying to support my end of the upkeep with paying guests, I should have gotten a full-time job and run the B&B on the weekends.

I would have talked to my parents more. I would have asked them about their childhood. Their teens. Their young married years. Who they loved. Who they hated. The hard times. The family problems. The war. Their illnesses. I would not have let their lives be nothing more than spectres dancing in the sunlight.

Hindsight is such a strange bedfellow at times.

It’s not so much living in the past as re-experiencing it. I would still take the hard knocks, but I would savor the sweetness even more. I would have brought the friends I left behind into the future with me. I would right all wrongs, mend all fences, and keep the love the way it used to be.

I would cherish every moment of every day much more than I did when I was younger. I would not, could not change the deaths of those who have gone before me, but I would have made much more of the time we had when they were alive.

If I could turn back the hands of time, I would never have let go of the things that meant the most to me.

But perhaps that’s what the future is for. Never letting go.

 

 

Moments of Reflection

heart-flower03There’s a lot going on these days…a lot of bad things, sad things. So many of my fellow bloggers have covered this topic much better than I could. I am sad, because as of late I’ve seen the American flag flown at half mast more than at full. What does this say about the state of the country? Of the neighborhood?

I’d like to share two different blogs sharing the same world. Two different styles, one same idea.

If you get a chance follow the links and take a look at the world in two different ways. After all…it’s all the same in the end.

First is by my friend David Kanigan.

 

………My Goal: Exceed the 5.38 mile distance in March or run to the Sunrise, whichever comes first.

It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to run. Right. A nerve in the upper left shoulder blade pinches. And this slides down to the lower right back achieving beautiful pain symmetry. Sedentary Suit on the move.  Jesus.

Both groins groan. The pads of the feet cry No! with each footfall. I’m breathing heavy, and this is downhill 0.2 miles in. Jesus Saves.

Running in twilight. Red shoes. Red shorts. Red Shirt. Blood Man. Heart over-pumping, lungs heaving but at least I’m lookin’ fine.

1 mile mark.

Cemetery.

Then, Darien City Police Station.

Baton Rouge. I’m on my back. The bone of his knee is crushing my rib cage.  His pistol is in my face. I need air.  I can’t breathe…

1.5 mile mark.

Church.

Charleston. My eyes pan across the wafer thin page of the Bible – I’m lip synching the reading of the prayer. I hear gunfire. In a split second, the full weight of the explosion lands, shrapnel shreds my chest. Astonished, I fall forward in the pew looking up at Jesus on the cross……

 

And then another from my friend Austin Hodgens.

 

Peace and Love, My Fellow Earthlings

My Fellow Earthlings,

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the state of our planet, and remind you of one simple thing…

No matter where you’re from, the color of your skin, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, your political affiliation, or your financial situation, you will always be an Earthling.

I’ve never understood why we don’t think of ourselves as such.  After all, calling this planet home is the one thing that unites us.

My name is Austin, and I’m an Earthling.

Try it.  Listen to how it rolls off your tongue……

 

 

heart-flower03

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

shamrock-heart_designTo my Mom, who was Irish.  Miss you, Mom. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

*

*

Irish Regret

Bittersweet memories

Blur my perception of the past

Connection with my roots

Happened long after

My Irish mother

Went wandering

Into the Eternal Green

I always heard the song

Of the creative muse

In my head, my heart

My very soul

Yet my ignorance

Veiled the possibilities

Of today, tomorrow

And all that had been

My dearest Irish Rose

A perfume I rarely inhaled

Is your memory enough

To make the garden bloom again?

My mother’s secret shadows

Haunt me to this day

Leaving so many strings untied

If only I had paid attention

I should have asked about

Her blood so green

And history so ripe

Tales of the clan of Cullen

Too late came to light

Only to become part of

Yesterday’s sunrise

I’m sorry I didn’t feel

Your Celtic heart

Pounding inside of mine

I hold onto the strands

Of Irish dreams and songs

One last attempt to thread the tapestry

Of an ancestry so bright and real

I shine within my mother’s glow

And scream it from top to hill

My melancholy regret

Is that she’s not here

To dance the jig

And toast the shamrock

With her daughter so true

And so Irish

Friends

Don’t you love how daydreams eventually turn to morality plays?

Was thinking this morning. What would I do if I won the lottery?

We had a conversation like this not long ago, when the lottery winnings were in the billions. I knew I had a snowball in hell’s chance of matching even one number, so that was that. But I sometimes wonder what I’d do if I really did come across an incredible amount of cash.

No doubt the first thing everyone would do would be reward yourself. You’d be a fool not to. For what you’ve put up with in your life, a paid-off mortgage or new car is definitely worth the payback.

Then comes pyramid #2. Parents, kids, sisters, brothers, cousins. Well…it depends on how close you are to your cousins. But you know what I mean.

Then comes charity. From cancer to colitis to kidney disease, there is a cause for everything. Perhaps that choice comes from some personal experience. Then again, look around you. How many personal causes are right there next to you?

Just as needy as any national charity are the friends who have stood by you year after year. Maybe your friends are all well and good. But others have seen hard times, too. We have one set of friends who have been in and out of the hospital; one is on disability, one is going to school so she can get a better job. Another couple has both the husband and wife fighting different health care issues and still working full time. A couple of friends are still paying off their “American Dream” that didn’t pan out, plunging them into bankruptcy or eternal second mortgages.  Another single friend supporting both her daughter and two elderly parents. Friends who may or may not be suffering from the aftermath of war.

These are the friends I would help out first. The friends who have a hard time walking up stairs. The friends who take medicine so their body stops hurting. The friends who have bought me coffee and talked me out of depression. The friend who texts me out of the blue and asks if I’m really doing okay. The friend that smiles and laughs through every working day.

These are the “charities”  I would help if I could. People who are doing things themselves, not asking for help, not asking for charity. People who can’t make ends meet but still manage to come up with pizza money when we all get together. Friends whose children are a little challenged, yet plow through the system with their eye on the prize just like anyone else. Friends who have nothing to offer but a smile and a hug.

Sometimes I think we underestimate the value of friends. We love them, we support them, but often are glad we’re not them. For how would we deal with such disappointment? Such pain? Such confusion? They deal with the world the same way that you and I do it. They complain, they vent, they cry, they laugh, and they move on.

Sometimes I feel so bad that I can’t make their lives easier. Better. I look at my own life. I see what makes my trials easier to bear. And you know what?

It’s the same thing that makes my friends’ lives easier.

If you can’t give them all a half million dollars, give them something even better. Give them YOU. Give them a call. Text them. Buy them a cup of coffee. Invite them over for dinner. Send them a book. Put a funny pic on their Facebook page. Do things to show them how much they mean to you.

Do it now. Don’t wait. You know that old adage….

And besides. It’s 15% off pizzas next Monday…

Happy Holidays…Merry Christmas…Blessed Be

 Christmas  is  Magic

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Christmas is what you make it

It is delight, it is memories, it is sadness

It is shooting stars and deep sea glow worms

It is sacred, it is jovial, it is silly

Say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to a stranger

Kiss your sweetheart and hug your kids

Call your sister or visit a friend

Christmas is what you make it

Today and Every Day

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See you Sunday with another amazing artist Sunday at  the Sunday Evening Art Gallery

When Is A Holiday Not A Holiday?

grandmaI am beginning to see for myself why older people act and think like they know so much. Why their opinions are so die hard. So know-it-all.

I’m getting to be that way, too.

Sometimes the world seems so stupid. I know that’s a demeaning statement; it’s not fair to the rest of the world who is struggling to make it (just like me). But it’s a blowing-off-steam statement as well. For how many useless things and actions thread through our personal tapestry every day that sidetrack us from getting what we really want?

You know I don’t mean the obvious roadblocks — we all deal with them as they come. I mean the events that can (and should) be avoided that are always haunting us.

Being an “older” sprite, I can see the futility of trying to change a person, of wanting to be a vice president with a high school education, of trying to visit the capitols of Europe on a retiree’s budget. I mean, if you could you would. But some things aren’t meant to be. But instead of accepting what you cannot change (that wonderful adage), people spend hours and days and years trying to do just that.

Maybe it’s just that the older I get, the more roads open up before me. There are lots of roads that are closed, buried in rubble or sunk under the sea. But it’s like the roots of a tree — more sprout out every day. And when I see my friends, my acquaintances, my new found peeps, spending all their tears and energy and lifeforce trying to make it “better”, I get ticked off. For I find beautiful flowers trying to push the boulder out of the way instead of growing around it.

Take Thanksgiving and Christmas, for instance. Big, emotional holidays filled with nostalgia, made-up memories, and TV propaganda. People get so wrapped up in “family” and “being together” for the holidays they lose common sense. Their hearts are broken because A had to work or B got the flu and couldn’t fly in. They dwell in the mist of “this may be XYZ‘s last Thanksgiving with us” or “Why can’t Christmas be like when I was a child?”

Don’t they know that every dinner is Thanksgiving? That every day you open your eyes, take a breath of air, and see the sunshine, is Christmas?

Why do we need a particular day to focus our energy on our friends, our family? A particular day to give gifts, to cook a turkey, or to go to church? A has to work? Get over it! Nurses, waitresses, truck drivers, TONS of people have to work on the days you lay back and sing Christmas carols. B‘s got the flu? Better to stay home and get better than bring the germs cross country to incubate in the stuffing.

The same thing is true about remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and other man-created important dates. Maybe I’m biased about remembering these things because my hubby barely remembers those actual dates.  I don’t get flowers or diamonds or fancy dinners on those exact dates. But I’ve got a hubby that’s stuck around for 33 years, and we squeeze in dinners and buy plants in the spring, and it somehow has always worked out.

I don’t judge my life by the rememberance of wedding anniversaries or Christmas presents. I judge it by the times I’ve been able to say “thanks” over a meal, or by the number of sunrises and sunsets we’ve been able to share. I know I’m too old to start a new 9-5 career, but not too old to develop my writing one. I’m too old to play the “if he/she loved me they would ____”  For if he/she really loved you, they would. Period. It could just be that, for some reason, they cannot. And so it is.

I don’t think I’m a hard realist as much as I am an experienced dreamer. I have had dreams shattered, plans never come to fruition, loves lost. As I look through the tunnel backwards, I see how I could have turned a lot of keys sooner. How I wasted years angsting on things I couldn’t change. Things that didn’t matter.

Perhaps that’s what the older generation sees. They wonder why we worry about getting together on the holidays and worry about getting together tomorrow.

And that makes a whole lot more sense to me.

 

Another Chance

Hot Flashes and Cold FeetAs I’m always saying, the clock ticks eternally forward. While we all notice the seconds, no one feels it as much as one who has already spent a good deal of their life counting.

I’m not going to lie. I want to live forever. I don’t have a strong, religious faith in place, so I have no idea what’s in store once I close my eyes for good. I haven’t left a whole lot behind for posterity, except maybe a refinanced mortgage and a unicorn collection. I’ve made a few people smile with my writing through the years, but standing on the beach or walking through the woods or watching a funny TV show leaves a smile on their lips, too.

And sooner or later my name will blow away in the dust of time, as billions have before me. But I will have had an accomplishment that will keep its mark in me through the Great Barrier and beyond.

I’m a grandmother for the second time.

This time my grandbaby’s entrance was a little shaky. It’s amazing how something that seems so simple on the outside can be so complicated inside. Life is a miracle. There is no doubt. How we get from a spermy and eggy into a president or opera singer I will leave to the biology majors. But so many things can go wrong on the familiar path we all walk that you have to stop and think — and thank — something, someone, else for getting all parties through.

Second grandbaby is a boy, and he and mom are doing just fine now. It brought back memories of one of my past pregnancies — one where the outcome wasn’t so positive. But that was 35 years ago, and this is now, and fate has smiled on our family and friends and brought another soccer player into the family. His older sibling is starting kindergarten tomorrow, so what a better off-to-school treat than a baby brother.

How appropriate his arrival came after my last post about Getting On Track. About sometimes feeling like a loser because I go up to the cabin to write but I often do anything BUT write.  Half way through my retreat the Goddess and Buddha and whomever else had other plans for my idle time. And it wasn’t writing. Nor was it windchimes in the breeze or naps in the afternoon.

It was welcoming another being into the world.

It was being there for mom and dad and CJ and Papa and Nana and Great Grandpa Lyle and Great Grandma Katie as the new baby came wrinkled and breathless into this world.

It was preparing the world for a new chance to get it right. It was dreams of baseball and homework and trick-or-treating with yet another child of the world. Another chance to get it right. To make the world right.

You can’t ask for a better chance for an afterlife than that.

Growing Corn

“Granny…one day this corn will be bigger than me.”
“Yes, Bay Bay…one day it will be bigger than you. Bigger than your dad. Bigger than Grandpa.”
“Then what, Granny?”
“We cut it down, feed people and cows and deer and start all over again.”
“Oh. That’s okay. We can come back here again.”

Yes, my little man, we can do this again.

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Sunday Morning Art Gallery — Mother

For my Sunday  Evening Morning Art Gallery today, I’m going to do something  a little different. I am going to honor the most  famous — and probably underrated — mother in the world.

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Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the best known female character in the Bible, yet very little is known about her. I mean, she doesn’t even have a last name!

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Imagine her life. She was a peasant woman, simple, honest. She becomes engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. And while she’s planning her wedding — BAM! An angel appears and tells her she is going to keep her virginity yet be the mother of the son of God.

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She is a religious person, so she believes the angel. I can just imagine what her betrothed thought. It takes a lot of commitment to explain the unexplainable. There are varying theories as to if the two were or were not married when she delivered her son. Either way, there was a lot of shame and explaining to do before they reached Bethlehem.

Chinese Jesus

Yet this wonderful woman perseveres. Her and Joseph’s marriage date is lost in the dust of the past. But she delivers little baby Jesus in a barn somewhere, in a stable or a cave or a quiet building in the dark. And so Mary takes her first step into motherhood.

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Raising the Messiah couldn’t have been a cake walk. I’m sure he had his terrible twos/threes/fours too. She was poor, Joseph was poor. I imagine Mary made the best of things, though,  and loved her little boy with her whole heart. She changed his diapers, played stones-in-the-bucket and washed his cuts. She fed him and hugged him and sang him lullabies. And as baby Jesus grew, so did his mother’s fears.

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To have been given the blessing of having a child, and also knowing that he would be crucified for the sins of the world, must have been a burden almost too much to bear. Jesus knew of his calling from an early age; I imagine that brought about a bit of arrogance (in a holy sort of way) too, so his teenage years were probably a little testy between mom and son.

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Eventually Jesus left the nest and went out to the world, leaving his mother behind. Some say she had other children. But she was, after all, the mother of the son of God, and sensed the tragedy yet to come. It’s not known when Mary realized her oldest was destined for a horrible death. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine living through those last few months of her son’s life. No mother can.

Mary

It is assumed Joseph died before their son started his fateful journey, so she was alone when her baby, her child, died on the cross. Like other women, she worked through her pain and loss and used her strength and faith to spread the message Jesus left behind. It is not clear when she died, and many religions profess she ascended into heaven full and whole.

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So on this day when we celebrate Mothers everywhere, let’s celebrate the Mother of them all. Mary. And let her normal, unusual, spiritual, female spirit guide us all. Let’s celebrate mothers who suffer and mothers who laugh. Mothers who cry and mothers who love. And mothers who love their children with every beat of their heart.

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Happy Mother’s Day to Moms Everywhere.

BFFs

heartYou can teach an old dog new tricks – I’m living proof of that. I can’t tell you how many times this bell has run loudly in my head. And I’d like to think I’m humble enough to admit and learn from each and every experience.

Tonight I learned – re-learned – how important friendship can be.

My friends have always been important to me. That’s why I married my best friend. And my kids are my kids and I love them terribly. But they’re my friends, too. We have a history between us, one that leads to stories and remembrances and reprimands gone crooked.

But there’s something about best friends that aren’t necessarily related to you that can make all the difference in the world between sanity and insanity. Someone you can tell your wickedest deeds and funniest moments to who won’t look at you like you’ve got spinach between your teeth. Best friends listen to your rambling, your dreams, and your fears.

And that’s what I’ve always wanted to be. A friend.

I’m surprised how often we take advantage of our friends. Not in a mean way — more like in a carefree, careless way. How often we don’t call, don’t text, always thinking we’ll get ahold of them tomorrow. We don’t mean to be too busy – half the time I think about my besties but I’m just too tired to do anything about it.

Am I still their friend?

In a perfect world, I am. And in an imperfect world, I am too.

Tonight I proved to myself that I am a good friend. I am a good friend because I care about others – I care about the people who are talking to me. Who are laughing with me. Who are rolling their eyes at me. Over coffee and some overly-priced cupcake I shared my past, my fears, and my excitements, and allowed them to do the same.  Sometimes my bffs confess all – other times they don’t share one little secret.

And that’s what best friends do. Listen, talk, say nothing.

This coming up weekend I’m going to get together with women who were my besties 20 years ago. Girls who were girls when I was a girl. Moms who were moms (or rather new moms) when I was a new mom. I haven’t seen most of them for almost 15 years.

Are we still friends? Are we still besties?

Time doesn’t change our past. The bonds we shared are still there 20 years later. Will we still find each other interesting? Fun? Will we talk till dawn or go to sleep at 10?

In the long run, it doesn’t really matter. Reconnecting to the tree that bore our fruit once upon a time is all that matters. There’s a good feeling in that.

In this world, life is short. My family, my friends, all have lost ones they loved way too soon. I miss my mom, my dad, my brother. My friends miss their dads, their moms, and their brothers.  I don’t want to pass any more time missing people. A once-in-a-while call or a weekly get together — it doesn’t matter how you stay connected. All that matters is that you stay connected.

Give your bestie a call. Text them a “hello” message. Write on their Facebook page or meet them for coffee. You’ll be glad you did.

And so will they.

 

And Another One Bites The Dust!

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YOU!!  YES, YOU!!

 

1.  Be safe tonight (and every night)

2. Don’t drink and drive. (easy one)

3. Don’t eat too many cream cheese appetizers

4. If you can’t forgive, there’s nothing wrong with forgetting

5. Make a to-do list

6. Make a fantasy to-do list

7. Rip up lists and do whatever you want

8. Breathe

9. Smile

10. Make a resolution to get better at one thing in 2015

11. Say “hi” to someone you don’t know

12. Watch less TV and read more

13. Say good night every night to the ones you love

14. Know life goes on with or without you — make sure it’s with

15. Happy New Year!