Bravery In The Wee Hours

Ready. I prepared to hit the spider my cats had cornered in the bathroom, and I held a napkin for the clean-up—me, the tired human living with two felines who chase bugs.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Even in the middle of the night, my male cat leaps over objects to obtain prey. Like the predators they are, my two lovely beasts will stop at nothing, not even toppling lamps, to reach a moth or “water bug.” I put the last in quotes since exterminators have informed me those large critters are American Roaches.

Oh My!

It was before my coffee, and I expected to see one of the brown American visitors being the latest prey. Until I saw it wasn’t. I’d been rather blasé regarding the event because of my assumption. Seeing changed my attitude. Every inner alarm came on and I was awake. I started grabbing needed supplies and shouting commands like a drill sergeant, “I need paper towels.” I also snatched a shoe I’d slipped off after work last night.

I was ready.

I flew into the bathroom, still freaking out about seeing the massive spider in front of the two cats, and then I looked closer. Dammit! It was a black plastic Halloween spider. My cats had spoofed me.

Cats! They do the darnedest things.

Cats make me smile

Soup is Better the Next Day

Soup’s hard to mess up. You can, but you can fix it by readjusting your ingredients. My life has been a lot like a soup. I’ve learned that life is complex and never simple as I pass the 56-year mark. The postman brings solicitations from AARP and Medicare. I yell I’m not old. My mind believes I’m capable of racing with the children. My legs know different. When a young man on YouTube ridicules me and calls me Old Lady, I smirk, knowing there’s a point when we all get there, even his sorry self.

Why Soup Tastes Better the Next Day (most of the time)

Letting a finished pot of soup hang out overnight means that harsh flavors soften, the ingredients have a chance to absorb the tasty broth, and everything transforms from very distinct flavors into one harmonious soup.

Christine Gallary

At ten, when I had knobby knees, it was impossible to think of marriage and sleeping in the same bed with a man. Oh, I was curious enough, but I thought the world would end before I grew up. My sister-in-law reassured me that there would be time. I kept seeing what the preachers taught, the fear speeches. I saw the cracks in the ground. Earthquakes. Wars and rumors of wars. Signs in the heavens. Yes, the world was ending, and I wouldn’t get a chance to be married or have children. I’d never had a first kiss.

“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier, nanny and photographer

Life isn’t the pretty pictures you see in the magazine. Our moments, each one of them, are important. Live them. It’s not a delicate family portrait. Life is pleasure and pain. I’ve had kisses that made me weak in the knees. I have found a friend and a lover. Joy. Other moments in my life have crushed me with grief.

I was 15 when I kissed a boy for the first time. It was at a park with my youth group—a very long time ago. It was a kiss. No sparks. In those days, I’d pictured perfection, my future unfolding full of joy and happiness. I was good, kind, so I expected rewards.

I once expected a solitary perfect moment, a portrait, but life is a collage of photos. Life is the soup.

The Balance of Living

Today seems like a good day for taking it easy. I believe it’s good to find balance in each day. I want to work, rest, be generous, and remember to find the “awe” of life by watching a sunset or doing things I enjoy.

Life is about living. As soon as we stop and plop ourselves onto a couch, our purpose is gone. Well, I think you know what happens next. It’s the downhill roll. I want to live and be full of the energy of growth. Keep going. Learn new things. Go to new places. Or do stupid stuff. Have fun in this life.

I KNOW it’s not easy. And I’m sorry for those who are struggling. We need to keep trying. I will, and I hope you will be here with me.

#Thankyou for being here with me. Could you show me your fun and happy pictures? #happypictures

Trigger Yourself Happy

Are you telling yourself that you never win anything? The loser. Stupid. Have to get everything the hard way. If you get any extra money, something will break. Or any other hysterically depressing life script. It’s not a laughing matter at all.

Emotions are a great navigation tool. We feel jealous, irritated, and mean if someone gets an opportunity we wanted.

Is someone bragging about their perfect marriage? An opportunity to go back to school? A moment in the limelight? Yep, we all know the feeling. So I get irritated when I hear that some celebrity has published a book. And it’s a children’s book. I pull out my collapsible podium and go at them. How dare they? What qualifies them to write anything? They are a celebrity without skills. Not fair! Your sister or coworker gives birth to a baby, and their baby is adorable—cough, cough, gag.

TELL YOUR NEW STORY

Old: I need to catch up. I need to be faster, or I will get left behind.

New: I am going at my speed. Life has varied paces. We are not in a timed race, and there’s not a finish line.

If the story of a friend’s vacation makes you want to punch her, take a hint. You want a break. Do you deserve one? Or do you think you’ve worked harder than her and you didn’t take one? Investigate your envy. Start checking your irritations instead of ignoring them. The “Not Fair” flashing alert comes on for me at times. When you feel anger, ask, “what am I missing in this?” Do I want what they have? Or the ability to have a choice?

When you feel anger, learn to question why.

Memories can be the beginning of your new story. You’ve done the most challenging part. You’ve identified what makes you jealous. Finally, you can make it into a new story, the story you want to develop. So now, let’s give it some life.

START AGAIN

Find a memory that supports your new story. I have a strong memory of enjoying work. I loved making money. It started around age three. And all the way through high school, people knew me and thought of me as a good worker. This is important since I had Fifteen years of not officially working and being told that my money wouldn’t be needed in the household. Those years in my marriage drained away my confidence. I had to pull from my memory to rebuild myself. So, I am incredibly thankful for the old votes of confidence.

I am thankful for every determined woman or man who refused to sit down and shut up when someone challenged their rights.

Energy flows to where your attention goes. And if you are driving in the fog and it’s difficult to see, maybe all you can see is the car in front of you. That’s where you look. Otherwise, you drift off the road. Your life script is your guidance. When the times are tough, you have to remember that it doesn’t last forever. That a new day will come. When someone else gets the job you wanted, remember you are just as blessed. Maybe their boss favors them. But tomorrow is a new day. That boss may not last another week, you don’t know. I’ve seen it happen. That sure thing can fall through. And yes, we have seen the sure bets collapse. If everything fails, what do you have? Your life story can’t be taken from you.

IN SUMMARY

  • Find your emotional flashing lights.
  • Examine the emotional story.
  • Use your emotions to learn what you want.
  • Build a new story with examples from your memories.
  • Repeat.
  • Keep at this and you will forget the envy and jealousy.

Sunny Side

I’ve been a blonde since as far back as I can remember. That’s how I think of myself, a blonde. I don’t say I have light hair, or I’m the one who streaks bleach through my short strands then masks on some vanilla toner. Nope. It’s a self-portrait thing. This is me, The Blonde. As a teenager, my method was a cocktail of lemon and peroxide. Then, with a bit of music, hot sunshine, and my stinky stuff on my hair, I had my own spa and salon.

The ridiculousness of color and identity isn’t lost on me. So I’ve been pushing those boundaries, trying to gently explore new possibilities. But there are limits. As a child, I wished to be as dark-eyed and brown-haired as my cousins were. My mom’s youngest brother has almost black eyes, and in my memories from my childhood, his hair was dark and wavy brown.

Across the Border

A girlfriend and I decided to walk across the border from Brownsville, Texas, into Mexico. We were on vacation one summer around 2005 and had driven 18 hours to get away, to be free. This was our wild moment. So we walked our very American-looking selves into the crowd and the cars already filtering toward Mexico. Neither of us had been here before. My friend, “C,” had recently lightened her hair a lot. Ordinarily, she’s a brunette. She was 5 foot and prayer tall, with a good dose of the short person’s complex, or as she called it, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Personally, I think C just had a rough life.

Cigarettes were cheap on the other side. And it was C’s smoking habit that encouraged us to make this trip into Mexico. I was excited to do a new thing. We stepped onto brick streets and entered a narrowing old-world city. The roads were willy-nilly, and we came with no map. C became agitated, which surprised me. For all of the time I had known her, I had thought of her as bold and brash. Finally, I said we should walk on, just remember the way we came in.

Hey Blondie

While we walked through markets that were selling blankets, bags, dolls, and rugs, the male stall owners hollered in English, “Hey Blondie, Over here. You come. Buy.” over and over again. “Hey, Blondies.” Now, my friend was ready to go. And I understood. I’m sure she had been catcalled and whistled at before, but she was feeling like prey. It made me reconsider how I have been treated. The men didn’t upset me. This concerns me.

As a child, I was blondie, even to strangers. I didn’t choose my identity or my name. The culture I was born into chose my religion, politics, dress style, and education. Somewhere in all of that, I made choices. Our identities guide us. Yet, we are blind to the choices we make because of their influences.

For another version of this story read my earlier post from 2016 Profiling Me.

Their World, Not Mine

I have felt the need to pull attention. Grab, grasp, latch onto it—the amorphous thing we all desire—as if awareness was a scarce commodity. At times, when you’re parenting children, there can be moments when there’s a shortage, but I think it’s more like our current situation with toilet paper. Stay calm. There’s enough for all.

I’ve often been jealous of the selfish people who could capture everyone’s eye, whether it be beauty or victimhood. As if by gravity—there are plenty of people orbiting around them. I fume. I want to poke their eyes out. Yes, I have issues.

Entitlement

When the Coronavirus started, there were concerns for our elderly parents, actual problems. Whose family was the most vulnerable? Why aren’t we staying home? The weeks have grown long. Somewhere along the way, this all became a competition.

Maybe you know the feeling. There’s a person you talk with about life, and suddenly their tragedy is worse, far worse or their life is more demanding. Sad story. After a time, you’re not chatting. Your blood is boiling because your calm talk is a rivalry.

Conflict is a trigger moment for me. I’ve retrained my response to these moments. I must first remember there’s no shortage of talk time. I can chat with other folks. Second, I respect the other person as best I can, but not to my harm. Sometimes I simply walk away.

We are in strange days. Stay calm. There’s enough for all.

My thanks to Wade Harris for the featured photograph. Find him on Flickr or Instagram.

It’s Simple

We wish for the good old days when times were simple. Snapping green beans on the front porch or eating homemade ice cream. What I desire the most is the idle time to spend daydreaming.

I feel bad about the struggles on the other side of the world, but I’m limited to what I can do. I can listen to Beatles music. Maybe say a few lines of Rumi. It’s not by any means stopping the skirmishes of fighting tribes. I don’t wish for the old days, not really. They had their issues. Days were devoted to food preparation and lives cut short by disease. What I want is simplicity—living with this moment—making the most of what I have now. I don’t want to be always thinking about the fun of tomorrow or worrying about the issues that are not in my control.

This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

The next time you’re watching the news and paying your bills while trying to phone your mom and pet your cat, stop. Do one thing. Only one. Choose your activity wisely and give it your full attention.
Save your sanity and realize your limitations. It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. It’s okay if you can’t save the world. We can put on our tie dyed shirts and chant OM.

Recommendation: The No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

The New Rule by Rumi

It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue and get into fights.

The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole.

But down in the hole he finds something shining,

worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.

I took it as a sign to start singing,

falling up into the bowl of sky.

The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.

Nothing else to do.

Here’s the new rule: break the wineglass, and fall toward the glassblower’s breath.

translated by Coleman Barks
This writing is an updated version of a previous post, The Simple Life. Thank you for reading.

Structures Keep Us Sane

Traditions remind me of the monument stones ancient people used to mark borders. We start new traditions when our lives change in a big way. And habits, well they make our life easier.

I don’t think about my tooth care often. I was disciplined as a child, plus I kept those habits of brushing my teeth and seeing my dentist. We often view addictions from the negative. It controls us. I’m addicted to coffee. Truthfully addiction isn’t far from a habit. Only it’s internal—the shadow side. The craving pulls. Pleasure is the fun we wish all life held.

No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments. Fictions serve as well as facts.

Wallace Stegner

Habits, traditions, addictions, cravings, and pleasures are whispers away from each other. I crave chocolate and coffee, but not always because they are suitable for me. The desire isn’t wrong, and neither is giving in to savor the coffee. These are choices.

Monuments are for the living, not for the dead.

Frank Wedekind