Stepping Away

It has been two months since I last wrote on these pages. I considered labeling this post as “Running Out Of Words”, but the truth is I haven’t. I think maybe I was too sad to share, or that what I felt was far too personal. As I mentioned in a previous blog this was never intended to be such a personal and revealing account of my life. I began it in a search for self fulfillment, a way of forcing myself to tend to my own needs after a lifetime of being everything for everyone else. It has also had unintended consequences, one of those being that some people who read what I write think they know me. Yes, there have been very deep heartfelt thoughts on these pages, and a very personal glimpse into my life, but there is much more to me than what you might read and assume. I also discovered that there are two people “looking” for me on a website that reveals people who are searching for you. I have no way of knowing if it is as I suspect a sales pitch to get me to purchase “Protection”, or if someone has garnered enough information from the web to decide to look further. Either way it creeps me out. One of the names is of a woman, the other a man. I looked them up. The male exists, has a Facebook page, and I have no idea who he is or why he would look me up. Like I said, creepy. The female lives in Florida, and until recently I knew no one living there. That one is unnerving for me, especially in these days of identity theft.

As for my sadness, four months have passed since my Dad passed. There is still an aching hole that will take some time to heal. I think I realize that it never will, because it’s right next to the one that has been there for eight years, the one created by losing my Mom. That post would be titled, “Running Out Of Words”, because sometimes it hurts too much to be crafted into a coherent sentence.

People say, “Life moves on.” and it does. I’m going to be a grandmother. The immense joy that the news brought to my heart is again difficult to put into words. I will of course unfortunately have to be a grandma from the other side of the country, but these days of social media make that a much easier pill to swallow, and I can guarantee that my daughter and son in law will get to know the postman very personally.

Finally there is this, the much promised return to what this was all meant to be about…art. Our dear friends and former Chicago neighbors are themselves relatively new grandparents. Their new joy lives even further than mine, he resides in New Zealand. Our daughters grew up together, and will now be moms within a year of each other. Life does move on. While looking at Facebook I came across a photo on Nicole’s page that stirred something in me that hasn’t been there in some time. It is a photo of her baby and his father. The baby is beyond adorable, the word (as weird as it is) that comes to my mind is “scrumptious”. He is so damn cute I could eat him up, but it was John, and the look of love and tenderness that really spoke to me. I’ve never met John, but that photo speaks volumes, and it gave me something I needed, a reason to paint. Congratulations to Nicole and to John, and thank you for giving me the inspiration I so desperately needed. (It will FINALLY make its way to you. Promised weeks ago, but I found myself hearing the call of “not good enough” yet again. Having to remind myself that it’s not meant to be a Xerox copy, but a piece of art. I’m sending it today in order to shut off the voice in my head before I ruin it!)

In full disclosure I need the art police here to demand that I put down the brush. I’ve retouched this painting six times since I started photographing it…sick, just sick…

So, a return to art, and a return to writing. The first hurdle is behind me. I know it won’t be the only one, but it feels good to begin again. My life moving on.

for nicky

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OK, I admit it. I took the photo of the painting no less than a dozen times. Why? Because I started finding fault with it and “fixing” it. Memo to the voice in my head…SHUT UP! Oh no, I hearing it again….I need to fill in John’s beard a little, fix the baby’s hairline, darken the ear on one side, ….help!

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Questions Without Answers

There has been art this week. I am in the middle of something as I write this, but tonight isn’t a night for sharing art. It is a night about questions. I made a piece of art last week. It was a homemade postcard for my dad. It was a simple watercolor encouraging him to get well enough to come to California. Unfortunately that remains to be seen. If you have followed this blog over the last year and a half you probably surmised that my mother’s death wasn’t an easy one. That’s one of the reasons that I have questions about my dad’s condition now. For my sisters and I our mother’s death was a long three weeks of suffering, both ours, our dad’s, and obviously much more so hers. Now it is my dad who hasn’t been well for weeks. In his case it isn’t that he is even close to dying, but that we are losing him in another way. Again I won’t share details, his privacy, our pain. I can say that I am personally questioning why? Why again must we watch one of our parents suffer so much? I don’t have any answers. I only have bewilderment, pain, fear, and of course prayer.

There was another question in my life this week. Not my question, but one of an innocent eight year old who asked me what prejudice means, what racism means. Tough questions. There are of course definitions to be offered, but really no explanations. This is a child of mixed race. He is a beautiful child, a child who has unfortunately known incredible pain in his life far too soon. He is a child that some people might not like simply because of his beautiful warm brown skin. I explained the best I could, but in the end I offered him only this: We are all the same inside, and that I have no answers to why people are who they are. I wish I did. I wish I could offer him more. I wish that I had some magic that could make the world a better place. Maybe I do, maybe we all do, one child at a time.

 

 

What It’s Really All About

Merry Christmas to all!

Now that the frantic shopping has ceased (at least for a day), I thought it was time to reflect on what this holiday truly means. I have a very simple story to tell that will say it all…

As you may or may not know, this blog began as a way to force me to focus on my art for a year. I had spent a lifetime putting the needs of everyone in my life ahead of my creative dreams. It worked for a while, but then life thumbed it’s nose at me and the blog became more about my life’s journey. I have however in the process produced a lot of art, and some that I am quite proud of. I hope to return to its original purpose soon. For today I am posting art, it just isn’t mine.

I have never posted the work of another artist on my blog, until today. Last week my dear friend Theresa asked me to pick her daughter up from school. Emily is six. We had a great time together, we made matching poinsettia bracelets out of felt for both Emily and her mom, and with me handling the hot glue gun, and Emily choosing the silk flowers, we created an angel for her bedroom Christmas tree. We weren’t quite finished when Theresa came to get her. As we continued to work on Emily’s angel Theresa and I talked about the holiday. I mentioned that I wasn’t quite in the spirit, missing Jessica, Dan’s long commute keeping his days away from me quite long, and that because we had packed to move I couldn’t find half of my Christmas decorations. Among them my nativity set. Emily left the room and came back bearing a shoebox she had come out of school with. “You can have this.” I opened the shoe box to find a nativity scene she had created in school. I said, “Oh Honey thank you, but I’m sure your Mommy wants this.” Theresa said, “No, she wants you to have it.” I said that I would put it out every year. Emily cleverly pointed out that it was only paper and might not last. I said not to worry. Amongst the many, many art supplies that I own is a small machine to do lamination. This morning I laminated my nativity scene. I will keep it forever and display it with a warm spot in my heart. That lovely gesture from Emily is what Christmas is all about. No UPC code, no brand-name tag, no fancy wrap. A simple white shoe box filled with love from the heart of a six-year-old. You can’t get a better present than that. I bring you my first guest artist, Emily Navis. Have a Happy Holiday.

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Behind The Mask: Faceless Hatred

So here I go once again, just when I thought my words about words were over and done with. Not so fast. On Sunday in the New York Times magazine there was an article about a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court. It is about the 1st Amendment, and the individual right to free speech. Seems like a clear-cut case right? It isn’t. It seems a marriage dissolved, the male half of the couple went onto social media and posted about wanting to kill his ex-wife, he actually went into some detail, and more than that he made a video. He claims that he was venting anger and frustration, that he never actually intended to follow through on any of what he wrote. Meanwhile, the ex-wife was very frightened, enough to take out an order of protection. She does not feel that he should be able to terrorize her even if it is only through words. He served some jail time, and is now suing for his right to free speech. (This is a very simplified explanation of the case.) The case that will be presented to the Supreme Court is asking this question: What is more important, the right of the individual to express what he feels? Or the rights of the person that those words focus on who lives in fear of the threat?

I don’t think there is one among us who hasn’t said something in anger that we aren’t proud of, or wish we could take back. I’m pretty sure we have all also been rather casual in tossing around the word “hate”, “I hate him.” or “I hate you.” Sometimes in jest, sometimes in reference to an actor in a movie, someone we don’t even know, but for some reason there is something about that person you find distasteful. We don’t really hate them. I think for most people if they really did hate someone they would have a difficult time saying it to the person’s face. This is my issue with what this man did, and for that matter what people in my own life have done. I mentioned the family member in my last two posts who was saying hateful things. Do I really think he hates my husband? No I don’t. Social media have become society’s mask to hide behind. How easy it is to say mean and hateful things when you don’t have to look someone in the face. It makes bullying easier, it makes racism easier, it makes sitting in judgment easier. Think about it. Isn’t that the reason that a particular organization wears white hoods covering their faces? Would you have the nerve to walk up to someone you barely know and call them a coward and a liar? I am asking all of us to remember that behind that screen lies a human heart that can forever hold the scars of what it’s mind sees and reads.

I ask because someone I know has just had such an experience on Facebook. He wrote a remark on someone’s post. He did it because the person was mistaken, it was not his place to do so, and I have told him that. It didn’t end there. Someone else that it had nothing to do with joined in. The person I know sent a  private message that man and questioned why, but told this man he was doing it via private message as to not have a public discourse on a page that belongs to someone else. What he got in return was a message calling him a coward for not posting publicly, and calling him a liar. He is neither. He has not responded, although he wants to, but I have told him to let it go. This person doesn’t know him. I can only assume through connections that he may have heard things that aren’t true, but I can’t be sure. Fueling ignorance gives people more to feed on. Do I want to say something? You bet I do (Obviously I have a lot to say about a lot of things….), but I won’t.

As I said before, I don’t want hatred or anger in my life. I am just deeply disturbed by those who hide behind the mask. Why must people resort to name calling? When my husband was dealing with his family member he asked for facts. He never got any. He got name calling. What is wrong with old-fashioned debate? What happened to, “I believe you are mistaken for these reasons…fact…fact…fact.” In return, “I see your point, but were you aware of…fact…fact…fact.” It worked that way for a long time. I am aware that even facts can be skewed to one’s own perspective, but at least no one was calling anyone else a liar.

There is a loss of decorum in our society, a loss of self-respect, class, and by that I mean to present oneself to the world in our best sense, through the way we act, dress, and speak. It is becoming increasingly easier to spread untruth, to spread vile words, to spew hatred. I’m on the fence with the Supreme Court decision. I do believe in free speech, very much so as I write what I believe here on these pages, but I also feel a duty to not use my words to hurt people. Free speech was meant to make us a better people, a greater Nation, by giving us the right to criticize that Nation.  It was never meant as a blank check to use as a means to bully teenagers into killing themselves, or to cause fear in another because of anger and frustration, it was never intended to be used to dehumanize our fellow citizen. We live in a country that guarantees us the right to speak, but we should also as citizens not just of this Country, but as citizens of the world at large, use our words carefully. I sometimes write of spirituality and love, today I share wise words from some who are far wiser than I:

Matthew 15:10-11

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Sahih Muslim

He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should either utter good words or better keep silence.

Jewish Proverb

A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.

Dalai Lama

“Silence is sometimes the best answer.”

In the end I guess I do have a few more words, and quite possibly some wise ones at that.

Jacqueline Zuckerman

If you could plant a field of seeds would you sow? Roses or weeds? Remember that words are like seeds, once sown they take root in the hearts and minds of others.

And with that, I have no more words, I only offer you something lovely to plant in your mind for today.

Sunset over Temecula on Sunday, just breathtaking.IMG_1053

The Theory Of Three

It seems I am obsessing once again. My last post about a family member is still bugging me. I get obsessed the way some people get fleas, it itches and itches, and never seems to go away, unless of course something new happens for me to obsess over.

My mother always said that everything comes in threes. If there was a plane crash you can bet she was waiting for two more. We are Catholic, and Irish so there is the legend of St. Patrick and the shamrocks that represent the Holy Trinity. There is the rule of thirds in photography and art. If you are a collector then you know that three makes a collection. If you are a driver’s ed student there is of course the dreaded three-point turn. I started thinking about this today as I was driving through a parking lot. What triggered my thoughts were the people crossing through the lot as I stopped to let them pass, and how this can be related to people in our every day lives.

There is the apologetic one. You know, the person who scurries as fast as possible as if apologizing for getting in your way, head down, quick steps, glancing nervously sideways to make sure you haven’t changed your mind and are going to plow them down any moment. Then there are those I consider “normal”. They appreciate that you’ve stopped, they give a quick smile and a wave, and continue on their way. Finally there are those that act superior. They step in front of your vehicle nose in air, refuse to look your way, and stroll leisurely (sometimes on an angle!) in front of your car, as if they are the most important person in the world and you are an inconvenience in their day. I began to think that maybe people come in threes as well. There are of course existing socioeconomic groupings, Rich, middle-class, and poor, but I think in general the rule of thirds can be applied to many of us. There are the life of the party people, friendly, out-going individuals, who seem to fit in everywhere, former cheer leaders, high school quarterback types, they ooze charisma, and when you stand next to the finer examples of them you feel horribly inadequate. (I say finer examples, because aside from the rule of thirds, there also exists a sliding scale, some people are on the bottom of their group, some are on the top.) Then there are what I shall refer to as the “Norms”. Regular people who try to live their best life, they are friendly, nice, will go out of their way to help in any way they can, feel more comfortable in a small group, and don’t enjoy all the attention. Applying my sliding scale once again, there are people in every group that bear traits from another. Finally, there are the people I will refer to as the “Eeyores”, you know Winnie the Pooh’s com padre. Nothing is ever good enough, everyone is out to get them, cheat them, they never get a break, think everyone else has it better, I could go on, but I’m sure you may know an Eeyore, and understand what I’m talking about.

Back to my obsessive point. Religion. It can be a wonderful mysterious loving thing. It can also be an excuse for doing the wrong things. My three people rule again. There are people like me. I have my beliefs, I live what I hope is a life that includes doing good things for others, and caring for others needs. Loving my family, my friends, trying to be a good member of humanity at large, but not feeling the need to shout what I feel and believe off the rooftops, or to force what I believe on others. I am a firm believer in “to each his own.” No one knows what is going on behind the closed doors of another house. No one knows what resides in the hidden parts of the individual hearts and minds of others. I say, “Do not judge, less thee be judged.” Returning to the family member who made the remark about Dan going to hell for not accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I have a question. (Not for him in particular but to the universe at large.) What if say you were born into a family that practices Judaism? Are you wrong for believing what you were taught and raised up in? Are your parents and ancestors liars? The answer is an unequivocal no. What if you were born in one of those South American tribes that are deep within a jungle and never heard of Jesus? Anyone? Locked out of heaven because you didn’t get the memo? My husband asked his brother at the time if a man who harmed a child, someone who did a horrible thing, but who accepted Jesus was going to heaven? He said, “Yes.” ( I say again here, for that man who is guilty of harming a child? Hate what you did, I can be angry, I can have intolerance for the act, but not my place to judge. I don’t know where you came from, I don’t know if you are mentally ill, or if you were a tortured child yourself. God will decide.) But Dan, Dan who stops to help old people in grocery store parking lots, who can’t pass a homeless person without giving them whatever he can, or buying them a sandwich, Dan who is a great and loyal husband, a very loving and giving father, he’s going to hell. That would be my number two kind of religious person. The kind that hold themselves above others because they believe. They wield their faith like a hammer ready to pound it down in judgement against others. I envy the faith that some people have. Mine tends to be a little shaky at times, but what I don’t agree with is the superiority complex that sometimes is part of the package. There are amongst that group some who spit fire about God and the bible, but then would deny aid to those in need. Senator______(fill in the blank). Finally, the worst in my book. (And that would just be in my book, my personal opinion, trying not to judge, but sometimes….) The religious zealot who uses the words of their God, whomever that God should be, to twist them in to a crusade of harming others in God’s name. I’m not judging here, I’m right, you’re wrong. We are all God’s creatures, even the ones who don’t believe exactly like you do. Not your place to decide who gets to stay and who needs to go. Stop hurting people, stop killing children, stop claiming to be acting in the name of God when you do horrendous things. No God, I mean no God at all, wants us to hurt one another. Religion and faith are about peace and love. I have mentioned these wise words before, they come from my dad (and as always must have a soccer reference. I’m paraphrasing here), “It doesn’t matter what color jersey you are wearing, as long as you play the game.” He was talking about faith and spirituality, and I’m with him. I don’t care who you believe in or how, that is up to you. I believe in a loving God, a forgiving God, a God who knows what is in your heart and in mine. What I do care about is when people hurt each other no matter what the weapon of choice, a sharp tongue can make a deeper cut sometimes than a sharp sword, remember that.

 

Life Moves On

I have friend, she landed in Paris this morning. I have another who is burying her dad today. One friend facing probably one of the worst days of her life, and the other experiencing immense happiness. The world never stops. Sunday I went to a concert, but as we drove there I thought about the friend of mine who just that morning had lost her dad. I was reminded of when my mother died. I remember thinking about how in a single moment my life was changed forever, yet for the rest of the world outside my family life was continuing on as normal. I remember thinking, “How can this be? Shouldn’t everyone know that a beautiful person had just left this earth?”, but here I was on the way to a concert, my friend’s world changed forever, mine continuing on. It’s a strange place to be. You know your life will never be the same, but the people who see you on the street have no idea of the profound loss you’ve just experienced. For the friend that is burying her dad, actually her step-dad (you know those unsung heroes that step into a family and make all the difference in the world?), I am sure she is in a similar place to where I was. I think I have posted this poem before, or at the very least mentioned it. I heard it in the movie Four Weddings and A Funeral and it stuck with me since:

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It’s been seven years since I lost my mom. When my friend sent a text to let me know her dad had passed I cried. I cried for her loss, but also for my own. Reopening a wound a little. I still wonder about the world that continues on without my mom. I still ache to her voice, to wrap my arms around her, to give her one more kiss. Monday was a little cold here. I grabbed a scarf from my drawer, it was my mother’s. It still smelled of smoke, hairspray, and of her perfume. I haven’t washed it in all the time I’ve had it, and I never will. It carries traces of her and if that is all I can have I will treasure it forever.

To my friend in Paris. I love Paris, I hope you will love it as much as I did. Treasure that you are there with someone you love, I hope you have thousands of beautiful memories.

To my friend who is burying her dad. I think I’ve told you more than once, my mom knew how much I loved her. In some small way that helps. Your dad knew you loved him. He knows you are a fine and good woman. Dark skies ahead, but time truly helps, focus on the good stuff, the love, the laughter, even the stuff that annoyed the heck out of you. It’s life, it’s moving on, it will continue to move on, it will be a little emptier, but he will live on in your heart and mind. He has left this world with the gift of your love and the love of your family, and in return has left some love of his own. Prayers are with you all today.

 

Before I end this post a word about stepfathers. My husband is one, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Like my friends dad he made sure that my daughter knew he loved her. Most stepfathers love all of their children, not just the ones that are “blood” relatives. Stepfathers usually end up in the movies as creepy guys who are up to no good, when in everyday life they are men made of something special. It isn’t easy to step into a family, and when your stepchild loves you immensely it means you have done something really right. When your stepchild refers to you as “Dad” it means you have crossed the boundary of blood lines and brought something wonderful into the life of someone else. I’m not forgetting the step-moms either. My daughter has a really terrific one named Valerie, who is one of the finest women I know, and my very dear friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better influence in Jessica’s life.

Life will move on. Stop breathe, appreciate, offer gratitude, and most of all love. I never want someone I know to leave this earth not knowing what they mean to me.

She Speaks

After a year of blogging every single day, and then a couple of times a week, it might seem like I am running out of things to say. That isn’t true of course, although I am much less of a “talker” than most. I am comfortable in my own silence (and even more comfortable in the silence of some others…) The truth is that things haven’t changed. Our life is still on hold as we try to sell our home. At the risk of offending some very dear friends (who happen to be decent human beings and realtors), I will say that we are beginning to feel a bit like shark bait for the local realtors. We continue to have people contact us about our home, always starting out as if they have a possible buyer, ask lots of questions and then go for the kill. When I explained to a caller the other day that I had a realtor in line, a best friend in line for the sale of our home should we decide to go that route, she began to badger me on the whys and hows of why in her opinion, “That just doesn’t work.” I explained that my dear friend is away for family medical reasons. I explained that I had already made the promise to my friend that the listing would be hers. I explained about a bad realtor experience back in Chicago that made me wary. None of that mattered. She simply ignored everything I said and told me that I needed to have an “open mind” when her boss came to preview my property. I was losing my temper (which is never, ever a good thing for the person on the other end of it), I was trying to be as pleasant as possible, but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. If this particular caller had her way I would be greeting my returning friend with, “Sorry your family member was gravely ill, by the way our friendship of nine years means nothing, and I’m giving someone else my house to list.” I actually thanked this person for her professionalism (which she wasn’t), but I find myself in a very awkward position. I want to tell these people exactly what I think of them and their “ethics”, but if I do that I risk alienating them even farther. I just don’t understand. Why is my need to sell my own house such a bad thing? We are offering compensation to the buyer’s realtor. We don’t expect these people to work for nothing, but not a single realtor in the area has brought a client to our home. One realtor went as far as telling us that we weren’t worth his time. Since when is a paycheck of nearly ten thousand dollars not worth someones time? We aren’t against someone earning a living, but we are people who had very little income for sixteen months and need to keep as much of our money as we can for ourselves. I’m angry and frustrated. I want and need to move ahead with our life, but I am also as stubborn as they come. So I will sit in my beautiful home with my heels dug in and wait for the buyer to find us without any help from anyone else, because ten thousand dollars is definitely worth my time.

Breathe….now I feel better.

Art! There hasn’t been a piece every day. There have been fairies and other things. I will share the photo from my altered art piece from my daughter’s birthday. (She may kill me for it, but if you don’t think she was one of the cutest toddlers ever…) This was the cover on one of thirty gifts I sent her. A small cigar box that contained a little tiny set of pages where I wrote out the story of her birth. One thing that the last year and a half has taught me is that “things” don’t matter. People matter, memories matter, spirituality matters. The things that mean the most are the things that cannot be held in our hands, but only in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jessica.

bday project.jpg 1

The Pieces Of Me

I have often mentioned here on these pages that I like to think about where people come from, the who’s and why’s of the person they have become. I find it interesting that so many influences affect the people we are, like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that never ends, always adding pieces. We continue to evolve due to experiences we have, and by the people we associate with. I’m sure there may have been a moment in many people’s lives where their mother said something along the lines of, “You are the people you are with.” There may be some truth to that. I know that when I see a quality in another person that I like I try to emulate that behavior, and of course when I find a personality trait distasteful I look at myself to make sure that I’m not unknowingly acting the same way. As usual I am off on a physiological rant of sorts, which is never my intention, but I guess part of who I am. My first magazine subscription as a child was Highlights. My favorite parts? The “Hidden Objects” puzzle, and “Goofus and Gallant.” I’m a puzzle doer, love them, I can’t purchase a jigsaw puzzle. If I dare buy a puzzle I can kiss my day, and sometimes my night (all night), and possibly some of the next day off. I have to finish them obsessively. Goofus and Gallant? I think that might just be a little part of my immense sense of right and wrong. I have very little gray area in my life. My next subscription, at about age fifteen was Physiology Today. Even at that young age I was fascinated by the human mind. Just a few of the pieces that make up me.

Then there is Monty Hall. If you are too young to remember, Monty was the host of Let’s Make A Deal. Wayne Brady hosts the show now. When I was five it was my favorite show. My mother once told me that she had a hard time getting me to go to kindergarten because I didn’t want to leave my show. I think I may have loved the mystery of it. (See? Influences. I’m also a Nancy Drew Mysteries girl) I loved the reveal of what was in the boxes and behind the curtain. My sisters and I would pretend to be Carol Merrill, Monty’s sidekick model, we had the hand gesturing down to a science. My favorite part of the show was the end. Monty would travel through the audience and ask people for odd items, and if they had the safety-pin, or Buffalo nickel, etc…they were rewarded with cash. Influences once again. Like most women I carry a purse. My purse is an ode to Monty. I have safety pins, bandages, toothpicks, rubber bands, the list is tremendous. I think somewhere in my developing mind Monty was there urging me to always be prepared. I bring this up because of a situation that occurred over the weekend. I got a text message from my son Brian, it said that he had lost his glasses and did we happen to have a spare pair? Not only to I carry a purse, I also have a bag, let’s call it my Let’s Make A Deal bag. It contains all the stuff that my purse is too small to hold. (Trust me, I have a big purse) We were out in the car when the message came to my phone. Did I have glasses? Yes, six pairs. They were in my LMAD bag. We immediately drove to the winery where he works to drop off a pair. I believe this makes me eligible for “Mother of the Year”, who else can arrive with an assortment of eye wear at a moment’s notice? A Let’s Make A Deal girl, that’s who.

I do try to let the people in my life that I am grateful to know it. There are countless people who have been in my life that have contributed to the person I am, some I have of course known, but so many more that were in my life for a fleeting moment.  Susan Dey on the Partridge Family who I really wanted to be, because she seemed so cool, and I just wasn’t.  Princess Caroline of Monaco for being a princess with brown hair and brown eyes. Mrs. Weclew (I’m sure I’ve spelled her name wrong), she was my third grade teacher. The first to recognize that I had artistic talent. She was a lovely woman who would put her arms around the very shy little girl who became me, because I would cry when I had to stand in front of the chalkboard where everyone could see me. Iris Guerrero, the new girl when I was in 7th grade and had no friends. She didn’t know I was the kid everyone made fun of. She taught me to open my mouth and speak up for myself. Johnetta Jackson. My parents moved in the middle of my 7th grade year. It was my turn to be the new girl in eighth grade. Johnetta saw me the first day, she didn’t know me, didn’t know I was a terrified and shy girl,  she put her arm around me and began to introduce me to people. Turned out to be a good year, probably the best of my entire school career. I would love to thank her for that. There is of course my wonderful husband who has made me feel loved and secure every single day, believe me it makes a difference. Believe it or not my kids as well. Jessica heads out into the world so fearless. I love her energy, her intelligence, her creativity, and her kind heart. She makes me want to try new things. My son Brian, like his dad one of the smartest people I know, which is amazing because he hated school. Funny, charming, with a big warm heart (despite his efforts to look nonchalant). Brian was my sidekick for a long time. Jessica is older, and Dan traveled a lot. There’s something about Brian that makes me want to make him proud of me. I hope he is.

I could of course go on and on. Think about it. Who in their own way, in a single moment or with a single act, be it a moment of kindness or of something unpleasant, made an impression that shaped the person you are. Do we get to say, “Thank you.” or ,”You’ve hurt me.”, do we even recognize it in that second? Maybe all we can do is to try not to spread the unpleasantness, and maybe all we can do is be grateful for the good, thank them in ours minds and hearts, and try to be the kind of person that makes a difference in the life of someone else.

A Different Dialog

I’m not going to write today about my house. Sometimes things happen that resonate in my brain, and reorders my perspective about what is important in life. I went to the pharmacy today to pick up a prescription. An ordinary errand on an ordinary day. The woman behind the counter is not Caucasian, she is Middle Eastern. I’m not sure where she hails from, I will presume, although I do not know, that it isn’t from the U.S., she has just the hint of an accent. I have a hint of an accent myself, it’s a Midwestern twang with a touch of the Brogue, depending on which words stuck with me from my very Irish upbringing. None of that matters. She is a lovely woman, pleasant and nice. She always has a smile, and through the many years that I have been patronizing the pharmacy we have developed an easy rapport with one another. Today she seemed tired, and I thought I heard a trace of illness. I asked if she were coming down with something, and then she began to cry. Her nephew was killed in a motorcycle accident only two days ago. She told me he was only twenty five, she had so much pain in her eyes that I began to cry as well. I reached for her hand and held it just for a second, and for a moment she seemed surprised, and then pulled away. I told her I was sorry, I told her there were no answers. She lives amongst elderly relatives, some are sickly, but they are alive. She is at a loss, she doesn’t understand why this young man was taken when she has people in her life ready to move on. We stood for a few moments and talked about her nephew and my mother. I told her the one thing that I believe, that he will always live on in their hearts. I told her I talk to my mom all the time in my laundry room. With that I realized there was another customer behind me, a woman.  I wished the pharmacy tech well and stepped aside, and then the other woman looked at me and said, “I talk to my mother in the garden.”

I wrote about this incident because in that singular moment I wished that the world at large could share that human connection. I talked about the pharmacy tech’s heritage not because she was different, but because we are all the same. Her pain was my pain, the hole in my heart caused by my mother’s death is the same as the hole in her heart, and of the heart of the woman behind me. I am tired of reading, and so much more exhausted seeing the effort that is put into pointing out all of our differences. Bill Maher had a show on in which he and a guest were in essence laying a blanket definition of who Muslims are are what they believe. It wasn’t pretty. Ben Affleck was on the program and was challenging their statements. I’m with Ben. I’m a Catholic. Not really a practicing Catholic, but it is the foundation of who I am, and in how I choose to live my life. There are particular programs on these days where the hosts are “Christians”. There is nothing remotely “Christ-like” in how they portray the issues of today. One of the most spectacular qualities that we as humans have is our differences. God given differences. By that I don’t mean the stuff that interferes with leading a good, and God-like existence. Things like racism, ignorance, intolerance, violence…the list goes on and on. I mean the differences in each and everyone of us that makes us unique. It’s the reason that you can’t “blanket” any religion. I have three sisters, we all live our various levels of faith in our own manner. Does that make one of us a “good” Catholic, or another a “bad” Catholic? No it doesn’t, because according to what we believe it is not for us to judge. Would I be comfortable if because of the current pedophilia problem every priest was labeled a pedophile? Or by default that I am somehow responsible for what a number of sick individuals did? No I wouldn’t. I happen to have a dear friend who is a priest. He is a good and honorable man. I’m tired of everyone sitting in judgement of everyone else. What would it take to understand that because you worship differently than me you aren’t wrong? You are different in the magnificent way that God created you. We all hurt, we all bleed, we are all devastated by the loss of loved ones. We all love our children, we all want to be happy, we all want love. Here’s the other really great thing that God did. We’re all the same too. Let’s stop looking at the differences in the wrong way. Let’s celebrate our individuality, the many traditions of worship, the many expressions of love in whatever form they may take, the many colors of our skin (even for those of us that have no color in our skin), the way that each of us are different from the person next to us. Then let’s embrace what is the same. Let us comfort those who have lost, cheer for those who succeed, wrap ourselves in the connection we all have, the human experience. Finally, let’s begin to turn a deaf ear to those who would divide us, who would abuse the name of God, of Allah, of Jesus, or whomever one prays to, by turning them into weapons of divisiveness, or of judgement. Of turning our backs on what I believe everyone’s God teaches, and that is love.

Wanted: Friend, Must Love….

Still waiting for our appraisal, so for now all I can do is sit and wait. Sitting isn’t actually a bad thing, I’ve been working myself to the point of exhaustion, I need the break. Meanwhile I contemplate the future. As I move into a new area of California, knowing no one, I began to think about how much my life will change. I won’t know a soul. I started thinking about ways to meet people. I have no little ones to drop off at school, so that’s out. I won’t be working outside our house. I hope to be working inside our home, we would love to find an old house to fix up, and of course my plan to return to art keeps me inside. So where do I go from there? I could of course do my Nancy Drew best and investigate any and all artistic opportunities, associations, clubs, etc., but the truth is that I’m kind of a loner. I’m not a joiner, I lack a certain amount of enthusiasm required for many of life’s group activities. Let’s just say I could never be a game show contestant. It begs me to ask once again, “What now?” Maybe I need a personal ad for friendship.

Wanted: Friend, Kindred Spirit, Chum, Cohort, Compadre, and/or Sidekick

(No creeps or racists need apply)

Must enjoy antique stores, flea markets, and non-toilet paper cover kinds of art

I love art museums, and I like to really look at the work, the brush strokes, technique, and style.

Must enjoy making fun of others in a non-judgmental, only for fun kind of way (This activity primarily has to do with people who really should own a mirror, or have someone in their life who loves them enough to say, “I don’t think that is a good idea.” )

Cooking and baking are activities I enjoy, it would be nice if you did too, or at the very least be willing to take some of it home so I don’t eat it all.

The ability to laugh at yourself, as well as at me as you pick me up once I have injured myself AGAIN.

Understand that as much as I might grow to love and enjoy you and your company, I love and adore my husband and spending time with him, so I really don’t do weekend girlfriend stuff.

I Hate, yes Hate, movies where women dance around together. I have no reasoning for this other than my lack of enthusiasm, and the fact that it causes me to cringe. I have far too much dignity to dance around anywhere, and I really don’t know any women who get together and dance around. If I did I would insist that they stop.

I don’t watch Honey Boo-Boo, Real Housewives of anywhere, or reality television at all, unless it involves actual skill. Top Chef, Project Runway, Chopped, etc., much more my thing.

I love to read and share a good book.

I like independent films, can barely tolerate the sight of Tom Cruise, Bob Redford was my first love, Brad (young Bob) is a distant second, but no one compares to the guy I’m married to.

I was born and raised Catholic, but am very open to any religion, creed, or strange dancing around the fire religious ritual anyone else wants to do (unless of course it is a group of dancing women, because that is a deal breaker)

I can and often do use foul language. I try really hard not to, but I never rebelled in my teenage years so I’m doing it my fifties. (I think it has much to do with being a repressed Catholic)

I don’t particularly care for malls. I actually hate shopping for anything that isn’t beat-up, vintage, or antique. I will however, accompany a friend who wants to partake in activities that aren’t my favorite. I am definitely not an “it’s all about me”, kind of person.

I’m a giver. There are people in my life that somehow misconstrue my generosity as “showing off”. Yes, I can do a lot of things, but I am not doing them to say to everyone, “Hey, look at what I can do!” I really truly actually love to do things for other people, and quite frankly there is nothing so painful for me as being the center of attention.

I don’t consider myself an animal person, but they seem to like me. I don’t dislike dogs, but I do dislike noise, therefore I am a cat person.

 I have a rod of self-righteous steel in my spine. I have a long fuse, but beware the person who lights it, my temper is infamous amongst my loved ones. I am loving and compassionate. I have a huge heart for the less fortunate. I don’t have a single selfish bone in my body. I cry at television commercials, and have a very difficult time with man’s inhumanity to man.

      And I’m nice, really, really nice.

That’s all I can think of in the moment. Hopefully I won’t need to place any ads, hopefully I will meet another slightly klutzy, artsy, nice woman who would like to make a new friend.