Monday, August 2, 2010

How Cool! Thanks!

Well, it seems I have been given a blog award! The Versatile Blogger Award. Chrystal from "My Morning Music" nominated me! Thanks Chrys! After being a big fan of your blog, I consider it quite the compliment and really appreciate the nod!

Apparently there are things I am required to do once I receive this honor:

1. Thank the award giver. 2. Share seven things about myself. 3. Nominate new award winners and let them know.

Took care of number one above. I will also be making Chrystal her favorite Indonesian Pork Roast and rice pilaf the next time she comes up, with much gratitude!

Seven things, huh? Isn't that some kind of Biblical perfection number or something?

1. I absolutely love music. It is my mood-altering drug of choice on a regular basis. I am a rocker from way back beginning with the Beatles (yes I sat in front of the black and white TV with my brother and watched them on Ed Sullivan), moving through to Def Leppard and Guns and Roses and including more modern groups Nickelback and Third Eye Blind. I love the folk music of the 60s and I am currently on a big James Taylor kick when I want to mellow out. I have been fortunate enough to have raised five very music savvy children who kept me in the loop and introduced me to bands like Depeche Mode, Erasure and the Cranberries (though my kids will tell you that "Dreams" and the yodeling at the end drove me nuts at first... hey, I was a frazzled mom of five...what can I say?).

2. I love doing things with my hands. I remember being really young in my room at home and doing a mosaic of the North Church and listening to Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman. I learned sewing in school (back in the day when it was required)and made most of my clothes through junior high and high school. My mom taught me to knit and to embroider. She and I both learned to crochet when I was in high school and my sister taught me to crosstitch. I am working on a piece right now of four little girls at the beach which reminded me of my four girls. I realized yesterday why I love doing it. It is like a jigsaw puzzle with thread. It is amazing to watch the colors and stitches unfold this beautiful picture. The same can be said for an afghan to knit or crochet or sewing a pretty dress for an adorable baby.

3. I really really really like being home. It restoreth my soul. I am a homebody when it is peaceful. When we were raising our kids, a lot of the time I wanted to get out because of the sheer noise factor! I am eternally grateful for the fact that I married a wandering man. He is as curious about seeing things as I am about reading about things curled up on my couch with a hot cup of coffee and my cat. If it wasn't for him, I would have ended up missing SO many things! Ireland, Austria, Hawaii, Kansas and best of all... Oklahoma!!!

4. I love to dance. And it is very important to me! So much so that I remember telling my friend, Laurie, "I am going to marry a guy who dances!" OK, so I didn't. But I did teach him a bit. He is as comfortable out on a dance floor as I am away from home! This really goes back to the love of music too. I can really be dreading going somewhere (do I detect a theme here?), even as simple as a short meeting, and if I snap on my little iPod shuffle with my music, I am smiling and boogeying all over that bathroom as I put my makeup on and do my hair. It is as if the music makes every single one of my cells sit up and dance! So my feet canNOT be still! I still miss my older girls being home and the fabulous dance parties they had because they let me be the crazy mom out there with them! That was so generous of them... did I thank you guys for that? I heard one time that Michael Jackson had a whole room that he got to go into every day and just dance for two hours solid. I was so envious!!

5. I love to sing but apparently can't hold a tune in a bucket. I sang to my babies when they were little and still sing to my grandbabies. It puts them to sleep! Hey, if I was that bad, wouldn't it make them cry instead of put them to sleep? But referencing #4, when I put my headphones on with my iPod, um, I sing with the music! And my dear husband, Rick, will come around the corner with this big grin on his face. He thinks I am nuts. And cute. But he says I can't sing based upon that. Oh, well, I just think of Julia Roberts in the tub in Pretty Woman (hey, again with the theme) singing along with Prince to "Kiss". She looked like she was having fun and for me that's what singing is all about. Especially ripping down the highway with Boston's More Than a Feeling blaring and singing at the top of my lungs!!! Nothing better than that, baby!!!

6. I love to read. I will never forget my little Chrystal making a new friend on the playground with "Hi, my name is Chrystal, I like to read, do you like to read?" How sweet is that? She never knew how much I admired her courage that day. I read before I went to kindergarten thanks to my mom who taught me phonetically. And I did the same for my kids too. Learning phonetically worked so well with my brainstyle. I love puzzles and each word just seems like a puzzle to me to be figured out (sounded out). I read for pleasure (fiction) when my girls give me a hard enough time and I allow myself the luxury. But mostly I love to read self-help books. My biggest puzzle is me. And though I know there are some in my circle who think I take myself a BIT too seriously, I have learned amazing coping tools and even became a life coach to share this info with others. AND I am still reading... the Bible is a never ending interesting puzzle that has a billion fascinating pieces that the more I read the more I see the bigger picture. Love that.

7. I love football. Now, I cannot even begin to compare my passion for football with my daughter, Chrystal and her husband, Jason. But when Rick and I first got married, it was I that wanted to watch the games on Sunday. He was more passive about it at the time. I have definitely brought him around and it didn't take much. My relationship with my dad was sketchy to say the least, but the one thing we did together (besides fishing) was watch football. I asked him all the questions and he answered. It was our bonding time. So because I understand football, it is a blast to watch. On Superbowl Sunday, it is me with the guys watching the game and hollering "Get 'em!" and the other wives are in the kitchen... oh well! When I was 30 I taught World History and English at a private school in Reseda, CA. I had high school age kids. I will never forget the look on one David Gobauty's face when I started talking about Danny White of the Dallas Cowboys, etc., etc. He didn't believe I really knew anything about football. Ha! Ha! Girls rule!!!!

Sooooo, that is my required 7. As to nominating another blogger and letting them know, I reserve the right to check out some more blogs before I make my choice!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Old Gray Mare

It was two years ago last January that I embarked on one of the scariest personal journeys of my life. I decided to go gray.

Actually I had been wanting to do it for the previous five years. My husband said go for it over and over again! My color stylist (of course, since I was spending $200 a month with her) didn't want me to "You are way to young for that!", ok so that flattery worked for awhile. My youngest daughter (now 25) told me I would hate it. I guess I believed her. I do have a tendency to jump into things and go "What the heck was I thinking?"

Yet the thought kept haunting me. Years ago, I met this stunning woman with white hair, big blue eyes and four little kids. I thought she was so classy. Marla. In L.A., everyone was fighting the whole aging thing and yet, here she was, way way before her age would warrant it, allowing herself the grace of her real color. On and off through the years since, every time I would see her, I would think "How come she gets to do that?" "Well, she has blue eyes, so she can get away with it" I told myself.

Then there were the silver-tressed models that started cropping up in the fashion magazines and again, I was intrigued. They looked so sure of themselves and so elegant. So real. And I even noticed those with brown eyes like mine! Hmmm, maybe this is more of a possibility than I thought!

Yet it was one movie that sent me over the edge. "Away From Her" with Julie Christie. I have admired her ever since her lovely portrayal of Lara in Dr. Zhivago. If I had to age, my desire was to age with her kind of grace. And in this new movie, she has long silver, grey and white hair... and she still is lovely, complete with wrinkles. I thought "That's it! I am going to do it!"

Backing up a minute, though, I must say that the six months before this moment I had been losing weight and had shed 32 lbs and feeling pretty sassy. This was a key ingredient, I believe, in my having the courage to take this plunge. I took my husband to lunch and let him know what I wanted to do. He was great about it. "The only thing is, babe, I have to start off by cutting my dark colored hair very short. I am not going through months of the skunk." He loves my longer hair but in light of my goal, he was on board.

The first stage was to chop it off to a bob. That was weird. I hadn't had my hair that short since my third baby was born! 30 years ago!! Just getting used to that was strange. But my gray came quickly. That was why I spent so much on coloring it had to be done every two weeks as the hair grew so quickly that I looked like I had white bald spots all over the top of my head. So here they came again. I had my colorist put some blonde streaks in.

Ughhhh, that was awful. And she kept cutting off more of the color as the ugliness was growing out. At one point I felt like I had the head of many colors. The transition felt like it was taking forever. I couldn't wait to get this over with.


On May 20, 2008, I went into my stylist, Melissa, and said "Cut it off! Give me a Jamie Lee Curtis right now!" She couldn't believe I meant it, even though I had been talking it over with her on other appointments. She said "OK, close your eyes and keep 'em closed until I am done!" So I did. And I could hear the ooohs and ahhs from the other ladies and stylists that couldn't believe I was doing this. And I could feel the air on my scalp! And the tear of the shears. Yikes! I thought! What am I doing?!!!

Melissa said "OK, open your eyes!" I audibly gasped! My hair hasn't been this short since I had hair! What I couldn't believe was how white the sides were... amazing. I had been coloring my hair for 20 years not knowing what was really under there, so this was definitely the chef surprise! But strangely I loved how free I felt and it was so shocking! I started laughing and couldn't wait to go home to show my husband, Rick. As I walked down the hallway to our bedroom after I got home, I could see just the edge of his face as he sat on our bed. His eyes went wider than I'd ever seen them before and he began laughing his head off and rolling on the bed!!! Literally!!! He could not believe I really did it! I think on some level he really admired me for doing it... Because if anyone knows how I feel about my hair, it is the man who has heard me complain and angst about it for the last 38 years! I told him "Hey, babe, we match now! We both have silver hair!" And for quite awhile my hair was actually shorter than his!!!! Too bizarre!

Well, if you have seen Jamie Lee's hair, you know that it is in a billion layers. So now was the growing out process. I think a lot of my friends thought I would leave it short. Um, no. While it is nice to know I have the option to have it short if I wanted it to, I need long hair, period. I have to have enough to put it up when I want to. It's my thing, what can I say? So this part was truly a two year process with a plethora of hairstyles along the way.

And I knew the progress by the utensils I was using. At first, blowing my hair dry was a super cinch and I just used my fingers. Then I graduated to a very small round brush to tame the crazy wild hairs. I remember when I was able to use a curling iron for the first time! Yay! I am getting somewhere! The best day, though, was the first time I was able to use my large round brush! Look how soft and smooth my hair looks! I thought. I was finally coming back to the old me. The one with hair. But wait a minute... was it really the old me?

Old me. Yes, that's what skipped across my brain every once in awhile. Operative word old. Did I do the right thing? I remember how old my face was beginning to look with the darker color. The lighter color seems to have softened the lines. And at 56, my silver-gray hair actually makes my face look younger. Weird, huh? And yet there have been a few things that have changed in my life since I went gray.

Right after I cut it the shortest, I remember going to a wedding and being able to be incognito for the longest time, standing in the back just waiting for people to walk by, smile at me, do a double take and recognize me! It was hysterical! I felt like I got to be someone else for awhile. Who? I couldn't tell you, but it was fun. That has happened a lot!

The reaction from friends and acquaintances has been interesting; as if my doing this says they have to do it as well; that because I say I am doing this to feel more authentic means I think they are a bunch of shallow fakes. That is not true. I was just ready to do this for me. I colored my hair for 20 years and I did it because it made me feel better and when it stopped doing that, I made another choice.

Another reaction that was strange that I noticed was the attention at the grocery store...from all the old guys!!! Ha! When I was younger, I was kinda cute and I got some attention, but that had not been the case for quite awhile. Suddenly I was the gray-haired chick with the young face! Seriously, the "seasoned" guys were coming out of the woodwork! I wasn't sure if I liked it or if it just finally meant I was now officially an old lady. Can you say "Cocoon"?

So there was some paradoxical feelings inside of me. On the one hand I felt SOOOO liberated from the trappings of the color worries (i.e. are my roots showing? Gotta cut those bangs so I can have a little more time before I have to color. What the heck color is that? I thought it was brown, why do I look like Lucy? Why can't somebody give me Ally McBeal haircolor?) It felt good having enough confidence to let go of the whole process.

On the other hand, embracing the gray is also honestly embracing my age and where I am in life. I am 56, mother of five grown children and grandmother to four. And I could be all of that with brown hair too. It just would be trying to prove something that wasn't true anymore. I felt like my color was helping me hide. I hid behind bangs (which I no longer have because I don't have to worry about white roots) and I hid behind longer dark hair. So the combination of being thinner and totally exposed with my white hair was really really scary in a lot of ways.

I gained the weight back. Slowly, but I did. I don't like it but I am more interested in what I am so scared of that I have felt the need to go back into hiding on some level. I even feel sometimes when I see some lady with pretty brown hair, "Maybe I should just go back" but then I remember the process and, knowing myself, snap my thoughts back to reality. There is no going back.

Seeing gray hair on my daughters' heads is sobering as well. Where exactly do I fit anymore? As I go see my dad in the extended care facility needing a hip replacement, I come away feeling young and powerful. Yet tromping up the hill of the Santa Barbara Bowl Saturday night to see the Steve Miller Band, I feel like that "Old Gray Mare" ready for the glue factory! Is it all over for me? I am not young, I am not old... and I have this gray hair. Now what?

Ahhhh, the big "now what"! I am happy in so many ways and still confused as to where I fit. I wonder at my being suprised about that. I have always walked to my own beat and didn't "fit" into the mold of those around me. Yet maybe there are more like me. I saw quite a bit of silvery sassiness at the concert Saturday night. Hey, we can still rock it with the best of them, that's for sure!!!

And speaking of rocking out, my greatest silver-haired heroine is Emmy Lou Harris. Yes, she has class, sass and is truly herself. Maybe that's what has been scaring me, really coming out of the "shoulds" and being the real me, whatever that ends up being!

This old gray mare ... she ain't what she used to be... and thank goodness for that!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good

My dad is sick. He is 81 and like the Energizer Bunny continues to keep on going thru two heart bypass surgeries, a stent, a hip replacement, various infections, a skin condition with the resulting diabetes from the medication for said condition.

He and I have had a rocky relationship. Yet in the past few years, we both have made a semblance of peace. It is what it is. And it is enough. I guess I finally grew up. Sort of. But it has been an interesting week of noticing myself slip back into the little girl who wants daddy's smile of approval; to be the good daughter. Did I say I was 56? Hmm, I guess I am a slow study.

I have three sisters and a brother and along with my mother, we all have kept thinking "this is the big one, Elizabeth," since 1978 when he had his first heart bypass surgery. Time and again, he sits at the brink, looking worse than death in the hospital, and cheating the odds, coming home and standing up in his kitchen making peanut butter toast. I wasn't kidding about the energizer bunny thing!

So here we go again...he fell a couple of weeks ago and has had to have hip surgery to remove fluid and unfortunately had to have a middle toe removed from the diabetes. Visiting him in the hospital this week has been awful. He just keeps looking from bad to worse. It is a helpless feeling to be with someone in that much pain. And the pain meds just made him more grouchy and full of stories he was sure were accurate about crazy nurses, etc. I don't do well with his grouchiness. I never have. I want to just say "Fine, rot here! I am never coming back!" But of course, I do. The feelings have been all over the place... depending on the moment, and of course, his mood. I have dialogues in my head about being compassionate for someone in pain...

Three years ago, the last time he was scary sick, I got it in my head to buy him a little iPod shuffle. I thought, "What would I want if I was alone for long periods without my family and too doped up to read?" (oh, and, by the way, he has also lost the sight in one eye.) I knew it had to be music. The love of music is one of my favorite things my dad and mom passed on to us kids; that and working hard and having a relationship with God. So I bought the iPod as well as music on iTunes from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Anthony Newley; all the music I grew up with and that he loved. He told me one day, I can't remember exactly when, about a song Sinatra had done in the early days that was his favorite. It was called "Mamselle". So naturally that had to be on the Shuffle too. And I found it!

So this week, I went and recharged his Shuffle that had been in some little bag somewhere. Yeah, who is the "little girl" who clicked through the entire shuffle to find "Mamselle" in order to cue it up perfectly to be the first one dad would listen to? Who was she that after a harrowing day doing a billion things, went to the hospital, stopped off in the restroom and freshened her makeup, put lipstick on and brushed up her hair? Could it be that little girl that still wants daddy's smile of approval? Like I said... I am a slow study... We so many times get thrown back into those crazy moments of childhood. Nothing new here I suppose...

I was discouraged to see him in a lousy mood again, but I had a surprise for him. I put on the headphones and watched the smile slide across his face and he began to sing "Mamselle..." Ha! I felt like the best daughter in the world! A miracle worker! Song after song came on and he was singing right along, sometimes I could tell what he was singing and I sang a little with him. "That Nelson Riddle had the best arrangements!" he said just bopping his head back and forth to the music, loving it. Wow. "Music to soothe the savage breast".

But yesterday was a whole different animal. It was late afternoon and Dad was no longer in the hospital but in an extended care center that he will have to be in for a few weeks to rid his body of infection completely. I walked into his room and asked him how he was feeling today, "Isolated!" he barked. Uh-oh... Oscar the Grouch was back. "Do you want to listen to some music, dad?" He said yes so back on went the headphones. But this time it was different. I noticed him singing "I get a kick out of you" and he said as he shook his head "Nobody could do this song better than Fred Astaire! Nobody!" and I noticed his chin starting to quiver. I sat up. The next song came on and he was singing the words "the things we did last summer"... and he cried more... I did not know what to do... do I turn it off?

Then I could hear him singing "My poor heart is sentimental, not made of wood. I got it bad and that ain't good. But when the weekend's over and Monday rolls around, I end up like I start out, crying my heart out. Doesn't love me like I love her, nobody could, I got it bad and that ain't good." By this time, he is barely choking out these heart-wrenching words as he sobs. Then he is shaking his head and saying "I didn't do it right, I didn't do it right." I stood up and took off the headphones and said "Dad, you did, you did." "It wasn't enough...I didn't tell her how I felt" At this point, I am crying too. "Well, you always had a hard time expressing yourself, Dad" "I know, I came from such a hard place, I just couldn't do it.""Did you do the best you could?" " I thought I did..." "Hey, Dad, she stayed around, didn't she?" "It didn't seem like she was really ever there much." All through his tears he said these things and I tried to console him, but he was unconsolable. "I have to tell her! I have to let her listen to this song and then she will know!" he cried. This all felt surrealistic to me. I had never seen this side of him. Though mom had told me this had happened before. He was always so hard, I didn't know what to do. I got him a little calmed down, feigned a bathroom break, walked outside and called mom to come down. She had to, there was no consoling him.

She came in and reassured him. At first he bucked up and wasn't going to say anything! I looked down at his cry-face and said "There is something you want to share with mom, right?" He looked over at her and started to speak and I left them together to talk. When I got back to the room, she was reassuring him of her love and how she knows he loves her and that their whole life has been an adventure soundtracked to the best music in the world and that only he was the guy who "got" the lyrics and she wouldn't have anyone else. He seemed so much better and I kissed him goodnight after putting the shuffle and headphones away in the drawer.

Today when I went to see him he was nearly downright perky. He was ready to do whatever the nurses say so he can get out of there. I asked him if he wanted his music, he said yes and oddly enough, the shuffle didn't work. Hmmm.

Music is cleansing, a mood-altering drug and can take us back to good, bad and ugly times. This mostly grouchy old man taught me that he is as complex and multifaceted as I am. He is still the handsome tan guy who, on warm summer days in the San Fernando Valley while mom and I made a salad and the steaks were on the grill, with the slider wide open, with a beer in one hand and a hose in the other watering the huge backyard, would be dancing silly steps to the Tijuana Brass blaring from the stereo for all the world to hear. And that wasn't bad... in fact that was very very good.

Friday, November 9, 2007

To Bee There

Wow! How lessons are given to me never ceases to amaze me! I have an office outside in my backyard. It is my little retreat that in order to get to, I must pass under an arbor crowned with morning glories. In the past several weeks another tenant has taken up residence along that route. From the arbor down to the fence that surrounds the patio outside my office is now a beautifully spun web and a nice big “Charlotte” who hides during the day beneath the rungs of the arbor. So I have got into the habit of whenever I leave my office, or go out to it from my house, I stop to see what’s going on with Charlotte or at the very least glance over to look.

One day a couple of weeks ago as I was coming out from my office and stepping through the arbor, I glanced back over my shoulder to check on Charlotte and there in the middle of the web was a bee. Trapped and still. Charlotte was not in the web. She was up in her little resting place under the arbor, I suppose napping before dinner. As I looked at that poor little caught bee, I noticed a second bee hovering over the web. I kind of made a little sad face, turned around and walked into the house. But I couldn’t get it out of my head. That second bee. So I went back out and stood in front of the web and watched him. He would hover over his friend, who was caught irrevocably, and then buzz over to a morning glory or two and then back to being near the web.

Now, ok, I know bees don’t have feelings, but I kept thinking how sad and frustrated he must be to see his friend in distress. Yet he also knew he had his own job to do and continued doing it, while “standing vigil” for his buddy.

And I thought how it is with we ourselves. When we have loved ones caught in what seems to be irrevocable circumstances, whether it be self-inflicted through an addiction, a physical injury or a terminal illness, how can we help them when what we usually want to do is fix it? Some things are not within our power to fix. How heartbreaking it can be to stand by and watch a life disintegrating before our eyes! How devastatingly helpless we feel!

So what do we do? Bee there. Be near enough to help if we can. Yet not so close that, especially in the case of a dear one caught in addiction, we get caught in the web ourselves. Let them see that we are there to support with words of encouragement, love, and kindness. For those who are injured or facing debilitating illness, we can give the same as well as bringing laughter and lightness to their own trapped feelings as much as possible.

And yet it is also important to remember that the bee continued to do his assignment. He was visiting the flowers, doing his job, yet coming by every once in awhile to check on his friend. That keeps us sane, does it not? To continue the jobs we have in this world whether it be as a parent, a husband, wife, or just a plain old human being in general. Because there are plenty of things we can do nothing about and doing something about the things we can raises our level of appreciation. How so? Because who knows when we too will be caught. So while we can, let us fly and do and love and bee.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Peace by Piece

I’ve always loved jigsaw puzzles. It was a way Mom and I could sit around a table and spend time together just the two of us. And when I have broken out the puzzles in my own home, it has served to draw my own children to me in a fun way. It’s so exciting to see the colors emerge as parts of a meadow, a billowing sky or the side of a thoughtful face. Sometimes, though, you get a piece that doesn’t seem to look like anything at all, a rather ugly color that unless you had the top of the box with the picture on it, you might not ever figure out where it might fit.

In working on the puzzle that is my life, I don’t have the luxury of a picture. And making up a picture in my head as to what it is supposed to look like tends to throw me in the wrong direction. Yet when I do spend time focusing on one area, noticing which pieces work best together and which don’t fit, amazing things start to reveal themselves.

So many different aspects of my life have been processed in this manner and yet one has constantly eluded me. This is the aspect of my weight, which is more than I want it to be and more than is healthy for me. In this one corner of my life, none of the pieces fit right. As hard as I work on it, the frustration builds and I just can’t seem to figure out what goes there. The edges seem to be of a color that is rather disgusting and so I almost don’t want to know what this color will turn into. Yet I want my puzzle to be completed. I want to see the big picture.

One of the things Mom and I would do when we would work on puzzles for hours is to switch places. Move one chair over. It always amazed me how that one change in my perspective could open up a scene in a way I would never have otherwise seen. So perhaps a new vantage point would help me see more clearly this maverick corner of mine.

It was recommended to me to go back to when I first started to gain the weight. Yes, I can see it. And examining that time period, I see that perhaps I just totally gave up on myself. What’s the point? I don’t matter. So my body doesn’t matter. That only makes me feel more ashamed. How could I give up on myself? How could I be so weak? Hmmm, this piece doesn’t seem to be helping me see what’s going on. I add it anyway.

All of the weight loss books and programs say that we must love ourselves first at the weight we are now in order to really have movement forward. That has been my block. How could you love this? It’s gross to me! Again, it represents failure, weakness and shame. I don’t know how this piece can fit and make me see it all better. I add it anyway.

Yet, wait just a minute here! What if….. what if I DIDN’T give up on myself all those years… If emotional eating is a response or reaction to fear, and fear is affirmation of growth because fear ONLY shows up when we are taking risks in our lives…. Hmmm, let me see, were there risks I was taking during that time period of my life? Well, yeah! Lots of them!

So, let me see if I have got this straight… My fat is evidence of my growth? How hysterically ironic is that!!!! So I stand in front of the mirror and look at my body, grab the left side of the spare tire and say “This was making peace with my parents” , and the right side “This was standing up for my kids”, the belly “This was the drive to Seattle by myself in a Volkswagen Bug when I turned 40”, and I start naming off more and more and more risks I have taken and the beauty of this corner, my rascally, elusive corner begins to manifest itself.

What a gift this piece of the puzzle is! I no longer need to be disgusted by this body. I am wearing my victories!. I can and do make better choices now to take care of this body and all of that is made easier because I am letting go of loathing it. You don’t take care of something you loathe or find disgusting. You don’t even want to look at it. Now I look at it and smile. Yes, it is evidence of all of the risks… I did NOT give up on myself. No, but rather I dove headlong into my life like there was no tomorrow. Yes, I did that with one hand in a bag of chips, yet that was all I knew at the time to comfort me. And I have other choices now.

What have I learned? That that ugly color around the edges of my stubborn corner was merely a shadow. A shadow cast by some magnificent wings. I am beginning to see some of the colors forming on those wings… And I can’t wait to see what it turns out to be.

Maybe I will switch chairs again.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Storyteller

There exists in each of our lives a storyteller. One who weaves yarns so clever that the most brilliant, educated and enlightened mind will not fail to be wooed by it. It was there in grade school when we were chosen last for the team. It was there at the Junior High dance when we were not asked to dance, or we were asked and the next day in the halls were teased unmercifully about our particular “style” of dancing. And it was there the day we stood in our driveway tears rolling down our face as we watched our now former fiancĂ© drive away with all of our dreams.

In each of those scenarios, and a hundred more, the storyteller tells us that, bottom line, we are not good enough. If we had only been this or that, we would have been the chosen one. The defect is our own. That elicits a feeling in us so potent we never want to hear that story again. It is the scariest horror story, beyond anything Stephen King could conjure up. This author….this storyteller’s name is Fear. Plain and simple. Powerful and insidious. And the name of this story is Fear of Rejection.

Yet, every time we turn around, we hear the soundtrack to that story playing in the air… going on a date, returning an item to a store, applying for a loan, and that dreaded sales call. And because we have heard that story before, we avoid these things like the plague or we endure them with trembling hands and knocking knees, trying not to let them see us sweat. Yet we are sure that somehow, some way, they will find out… the real story… that we are not good enough and we will be rejected.

What is the antidote to this storyteller? How can we quiet this voice that has been with us all of our lives? Truth. Plain and simple. Powerful and intuitive. Just as sure as Dorothy discovered that the all-powerful Wizard of Oz was no more than a mere man behind a curtain pulling levers and pushing buttons, we too can discover that this storyteller is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. And truth is what pulls the covers off. How so?

Let’s take the original three scenarios at the beginning of this article. The truth is you weren’t a jock, you were an artist and it stands to reason that it wasn’t a fit. The truth is you were only beginning to come out of your shell and that your rhythm would shine later on in life. The truth is that guy/girl was not a match for you. Kinda scary to look at the truth, right? Why is it easier for us to believe that we are defective than to believe we are just fine and that the situation in front of us is just not a fit?

So the next time the storyteller kicks in, I invite you to ask yourself “What is true here? Is there another way to look at this? Did I do the very best I could? Does getting this sale define the kind of person I am or can I show up and just practice being my magnificent self and if it doesn’t happen, then it just was not the right fit?” Are we willing to tell Fear to shut up and then tell our own True Story?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Seventh Inning Stretch

So why DO they do that seventh inning stretch at baseball games? Not that I’ve been to very many games myself, but being the daughter of a huge Dodger fan, I know a few things and can fondly remember the voice of Vin Scully on the radio barking out the plays when I was a kid. I just remember there were more commercials during that seventh inning stretch…

As I got older, and I do mean older, (hit the big Hawaii 5-0 a few years back) I can totally understand now why after sitting a good length of time, stretching is very beneficial to these vintage muscles. It wakes them up… it allows blood to flow… it stimulates oxygen to all parts of my body… So, I now stretch at other times other than the seventh inning at a baseball game. I’ve learned a bit of yoga, Pilates, etc., all of which have been instrumental in awakening these stubborn muscles of mine that really need to be more flexible. After all, I have a lot of shopping and running after grandkids left to do! Not to mention dancing!

I’ve also learned that perhaps in this seventh inning of my life, I could do some other stretches. Is my life really where I want it to be? Now that the kids are grown and mostly gone, are my curiosity muscles still as flexible as they used to be? Is a quick glance at the latest Time or People magazine the extent of my continued education these days? How about my personal relationships? Could they use a bit of oxygen to get some more flow of love and affection moving?

With my physical body, when I learn a new stretch… I’m a bit nervous… sometimes even afraid.. that I will do damage or hurt myself in some way. So what I know now is that if I do a stretch slowly and really carefully listen to my body, the next time I do that stretch, it isn’t as difficult, in fact my body allows me to stretch further.

And so is the case with my personal stretching. Maybe I won’t go back to school and take a full load of classes… yet can I sign up for one class? Just to see how it might feel? Hmmm, that feels like a stretch… a bit scary, yet do-able. If I like it, maybe next semester I just might take two… or not… How would connecting with some old friends in a more loving way seem? Am I willing to see them in a different light? That would definitely be a stretch… yet, would that breathe some life into that relationship? OK, so maybe I will start with a nice card… for no particular reason. Baby stretch.

That seventh inning stretch at a baseball game invigorates us. It allows for a renewed enthusiasm for the rest of the game. And who knows how long that rest of the game can go… ties can go into inning after inning… so to have had that stop, that standing, that stretching, that reassessing of your vantage point, makes the rest of the game so much more fun.

How do you want to see the rest of your game?