My Feminine Mystique

Hideous Shoe Framed

DID SOMEBODY WALLPAPER THIS SHOE?

This much I know for sure:  When it comes to buying shoes, I am a freak of nature.  My feminine mystique is flawed; I DETEST buying shoes.  I simply loathe the process.  I dislike nearly every style of shoe most women fawn over.  Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik have never set foot in my closet!    The heel better not be over an inch and it better be really wide and flat.  I am not tip-toing around on pencil points just to look sexy when Mick Jagger clearly has the strut down pat.

So this past Saturday  as I made my annual pilgrimage to buy a pair of everyday shoes for 2013, I soon felt the old familiar dread of having to part with many dollars for a smidge of leather and sole.  I watched as members of my own species lovingly caressed and then purchased multiple boxes of these towers of pain.  Some unique pumps actually had spikes on the straps and reinforced metal toe straps in case you have a rabid case of PMS I suppose.  They were even paired with a matching clutch bag that had handles shaped like an old pair of brass knuckles.

I walked down every aisle.  I mentally told myself be more open-minded, less judgmental, and appreciative of today’s trend setters!   Still, whenever I would quizzically pick up a pair of 7-inch heels, I could only think of two things:  Nail guns.  And super models who’ve never experienced a three digit number on a scale.

Why would women want to buckle six straps across?   I NEVER have enough time to buckle or tie shoes,  unless they’re gym shoes that I can just kind of mash into.   I especially hate pumps that squeeze my sides and constrict my toes like a boa constrictor who just engulfed a plump goat.  It makes my metatarsus spill over the sides like a loaf of sausage that’s exploded out of its wrapper.

In fact I pretty much only like boots.  Cowgirl boots are the best looking. They pair nicely with all things denim (especially Daisy Dukes if you’re young and skinny), dress slacks, and occasionally a dress or skirt, but they’re expensive.  I found several pairs, but all were well over $100, so I kept on walking.

What I really wanted, but didn’t find, was a replacement pair that matched my current generic, common-sensical, goes-with-everything ,easy-to-slip-into,  basic black faux sheepskin-lined, PETA approved version of flat-footed black suede boots.  I wear them with everything!  Jeans.  Sweats.   ALL my dress pants to church, which is pretty much the only time I dress up.    They are comfy, like an old pair of sweats.  They are homely and plain and would pair nicely with Jane Eyre’s wardrobe on any given day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like to get all dolled up–SOMETIMES.  Weddings.  Rare social occasions.  Ten minute pause here to see if I could think of anymore instances.  Nope.  That’s it.

I’m growing older, perhaps wiser, and losing my desire to impress!  After all, I’ve been married for nearly 30 years.  I’m not in the market.  But still, I do like to at least appear presentable, even pulled together if you will, if I have a social engagement such as friends or family coming to visit.

I just don’t need to look like someone in a catalog.  I am not a woman who likes to go shoppingI’d rather clean the litterbox!  Honestly!  Unless there is a store where the shoes or clothes are discounted with the price tag of FREE on it, I’m just not that into it.  I especially don’t like shopping for clothes with other women!!  Especially at THE MALL.   Coffee?  Yes.  Clothes?  No way!  The goal is to get in the store and get out as fast and cheaply as possible.

      I know I must be an aberration to my sisterhood.  I know my husband should be more grateful that I’m not a shopper, but since he’s never known differently, he doesn’t know just how extreme the shoe or clothes-shopping  disease could be.  I don’t have a designer bag, glasses, or shoes.  I don’t know how to accessorize.

I have to daily fight the urge to not be completely frumpy!  Yet these few things make me feel feminine:    Make up.  Support wear.   Sundresses.

Most days I wear make up.  Oh how I love these three things:  Eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick.  Captain Jack Sparrow is my role model for eyeliner!  And anything with the name plum on the lipstick color is good enough for me.  The lips make the woman I recently told my husband.  Yep he said as the basketball tournament continued working its hypnotic magic on him.

I like Victoria’s Secret because they construct bras with the same attention to design detail as the engineers who designed the Eiffel Tower.  Lots of steel and wire to create a structural work of art.   Good old Vicki S. can embellish what a woman lacks and diminish what God abundantly blesses a woman with.  And yet, if I’m strolling the aisles of any big retail giant on a quick trip to buy toilet paper, pizza rolls, caulk, and a new plunger, I have to admit if I see a bra for only $7.99 under a flashing blue light special, I’m there quicker than a fly on stink!  At that moment, a part of my heart leaps for joy!  It’s probably similar to the thrill of the kill a hunter experiences.  I am DonaldineTrump; hear me roar as I master the Art of the Deal!!

 I still eek out enough estrogen on most days to be moderately hormonal,  but never so much I’m impractical!   I shudder to think there were once radical women who threw perfectly decent bras into bonfires to make a political point.  Such foolishness!    

I once heard Maya Angelou say something profound about “the sisters” after you reach a certain age:  It’s basically a race to see which side gets to the bottom first.   With that concept in mind, why would any woman want others to know which side is winning?   So yes, on a feminist scale, I’d definitely say I’m pro-bra!

In the summer, I love to wear sundresses if I’m tan with just my bare feet as my walk about look or possibly jeweled thong sandals or even flat strappy things that are just slightly girly.  But no heels please!  I love painted toenails too.  Toe rings?  All the better, if you can adjust to their constriction.    A wide-brimmed sunhat and some Jackie O-like sunglasses completes the deal.    Sundresses are great if you have a tasteful tattoo (though I just missed that boat; I really am getting old!)  I love colorful nicely crafted tatts of faces, crosses, roses, ornate butterflies, names written in Gothic script, or scripted verses.   But the rose-laden vine crawling in and out of skulls is a little over the top, as are the rose-wrapped swords (that just reminds me of all the yardwork I’m behind on!)

All that being said, WHO AM I TO JUDGE?  I don’t.  For one simple reason.   I really am part of a diverse sisterhood of friends and family!  Skinny ones.  Plump ones.  Barbie doll pretty and long-summer-at-sea faces if they have been blessed with many years.  Career girls.  Inky girls.  Creamy girls.  Runner girls.  Housewives.  Soccer moms.  Women writers.  Bohemian artist chicks!  I’ve known and loved them all as we’ve journeyed through life.

I think I’m at a good place in life these days.   I don’t need feminine charms to assist me in any goals I set.  But I don’t feel lacking as a lady either.  I know my feminism isn’t found in the clothes I wear, the make-up I apply, or the shape (or lack thereof) of my body.   It’s quantified by the love I can freely give, the beauty that GROWS in my heart each day as I see the uniqueness of others, the pearls of wisdom gleaned from a single tear, and the joy found in appreciating each moment that God gives me.   He made me female in all its majesty and mystery.  I am woman.  Hear me laugh.  Watch me do.  See me love.  This is the mystique I was born for. 

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The Moment That Changes Everything

New BabyThis is it!  This is the moment that changes everything.  You just know it intuitively.   It’s every cliché in life rolled into one big split decision:

  • Should I or shouldn’t I
  • This could be the beginning of ……………
  • I (or my family) will be forever changed if I (we)……..

Have you ever had a moment in life like the one I’m talking about?  I’m talking about newness.  Maybe it’s a decision you’ve contemplated for some time and it keeps you up at night, but today’s the day you finally act upon it.   Maybe it’s something you’ll decide on a whim but will have life-altering consequences none the less.  Maybe it’s something that just seems to overtake you and it’s as if it was predestined just for you.  Maybe you’ll make this decision solo, or perhaps some collaboration is involved.  Either way, if you take even one step forward, if you even inhale even one breath of life into this decision, without a doubt life is going to irrevocably change. 

     It’s that BIG MOMENT when you:

  • Say YES or I DO to…………
  • Have just one last drink and put the keys in the ignition anyway, and then ……
  • Take your company public even though you are risking……..
  • Decide to move all the way to…………
  • Kiss someone for the first time knowing that…….
  • Run for office even though……….
  • Want to feel something different than this so you try……
  • Decide to no longer be held captive by the secret of……
  • Pick up the gun and…….
  • Despite any fear of failure, take your dream job doing…..
  • Gaze into the eyes of a baby less than a minute old and your heart floods with….
  • From this moment on, I will live different and choose to believe…………

Think about it.   If you’ve pondered this for a while you know without a doubt, life will never be the same.  Even if you make a decision on a whim, especially if it’s a bad one, an immoral one, perhaps a dangerous one, there is always that one-second hesitation that says  uh uh uh….maybe I better not.   Perhaps it’s something you’ve always wanted to do and this is the moment you say yes, even though you are unsure of future outcome.  Temptation.  Risk-taking.    These are the moments we meet at every crossroads.  How will you decide?

      I call them God Moments.   We either walk with Him or walk away from Him.  Perhaps we don’t consult Him at all, but I believe either way, He is watching, always aware, knowing the future before you take even one step forward.  Even if you’re unsure, perhaps you’ll seek His guidance and wisdom before or as you go through this decision process.  Perhaps you deceive yourself thinking this has nothing to do with God, I’ll just handle this one on my own, thank you.  How will you decide?

     This is the moment you could lose everything……or gain everything.  It’s the moment where you put your chips on the table.  Maybe you’re risking money.  Maybe you’re risking revelation of truth.  Maybe you’re risking your entire heart.

Nervousness.  Butterflies in the tummy.  Heart over head.  Head over heels.  Terror.  Exhilaration.  Freedom.  Passion.   Love.

Today is MY DAY that changes everything.  I have no doubt it will radically alter my life and the life of my family.  It’s something that happens all over the world every day.  As a writer, I know for sure it will give me plenty to write about. 

      What is it you ask?  Ah….the cliff hanger.  Stay posted dear friends.  All will be revealed soon!   I’ve buckled my parachute to the best of my ability.  Now there’s just one thing left:

      Go ahead and jump!

Diving into an Empty Pool

PHOTO CREDIT:  JOSEPH HANCOCK

       There’s a lot of talk these days that at the end of next month America is going to go off the end of the fiscal cliff. Yeah?  So what.   As for me and my household:  I’m tired of fearing:

  • The beginning of the end
  • Calamity and destruction
  • Everything is beyond our control
  • There is no solution here
  • We’re not going to make it

At least that’s how I am feeling about things these days.

The thing is this:  What percentage of your life do you think you actually have control?  The longer I live, the more I realize the decisions of others greatly affect my own from political to professional to personal.  But I am learning the gift of unplugging.

Unplugging doesn’t mean checking out.  It means you unplug from the source of stress that frequently drives you. 

It’s really a challenge to unplug.  It requires some heavy lifting, sometimes more arduous than turning OFF the power to the remote.   It takes more strength than to be able to single-handedly not check your email, Facebook status and comments, and news of the world via your smart device every hour.

I’m not advocating an “ignorance is bliss” attitude, but more of an ignorance is blessed attitude.  Another words, if you are unable to control much of what is going on around you, then perhaps it’s time to dive into a different pool.

We can’t continue to wade in the waters of a cesspool and expect that we will be able to swim capably, much less see clearly.   When we look at our circumstances or even the choices of others that certainly affect us, it’s easier to drown in a pool of pity or the sea of sorrow than it is to look past the horizon of hell that seemingly threatens to consume us.

There’s only way to survive that which you cannot control.   You have to release the limitations of your human understanding.  You have to embrace the sovereignty of a higher power.  You have to trust God.

Simultaneously letting go while hanging on—it’s hard sometimes.

It can be done.

But only if you dive into a different well.   Dive into a wellspring of life by trusting God when you don’t have the answers to why and are tired of trying to find them. 

We see the experiences of our lives and state of our world and usually look to friends or other people or the knowledge of the various media to explain it to us and make sense of it.   Often there is an element of truth to what we learn.  But much of it is agenda, even propaganda.

In the end, it feels like we are diving into an empty pool:   Unsafe.  Fear.  Vast emptiness.  You’re rapidly about to hit bottom!   Knowledge and news can’t answer questions such as:

Why?

What now?

What is my role, if any, in this?

Before diving off the cliff of sanity, change pools.  Dive into a pool of water where your spirit is nourished and your spirit is refreshed.    Dive into a pool where trust is your life preserver in a world of tribulation.    Dive deep in faith and know that God is good and in control and can give you the necessary healing, wisdom, clarity, or compassion called for any confusion or circumstance you have.   Don’t delay.  Dive today!

 VERSES TO HELP YOU UNPLUG FROM CIRCUMSTANCES AND DIVE A BIT DEEPER INTO FAITH:

I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things He did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in Him. Psalms 40:1-3 (The Living Bible)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ. Philippians 4:6-7 (The Living Bible)

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Be strong! Be courageous! Do not be afraid of them! For the Lord your God will be with you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.  Proverbs 20:5

 

A Prayer for America’s President

PHOTO CREDIT:  JASON REED – REUTERS     

I didn’t vote for you.  That is okay.  You are still my President.  I am still an American both free and privileged to live in the greatest country on earth.  As a Christian I am freely choosing to do this joyfully.  America is great because God has been good to us, even when Americans do not agree on issues or even who should be President.

So today I pray this humble prayer and pray it may be shared and heard:

I thank my God for you and that we were given a choice to elect you.  For you are the President to all Americans.  I know we are divided on how to solve all the problems that confront us:  Debt, domestic policies, taxes, trade, energy, immigration, social issues, poverty, education, justice, security, foreign policy, international relationships, war, peace, to name just a few.  I’m sure there are a few thousand or so issues I left out.

Still–this much I know is true.   God has appointed you for this time and place in our history.  So this I pray for you:

First that your family will be blessed and shine as an example of what good and faithful promises are in store for families that strive to be strong, love one another, and aim to work through differences in order to remain intact.

I pray that you are surrounded by good advisors who put the good of country ahead of politics and self-promotion and the wisdom and courage to remove those who do not.

I pray that you will be an influence on moral culture and inspire people to value honor and truth.  This means living and speaking truthfully, even when or if the truth hurts you or hurts us.  We are Americans; we are strong. We can take it.

May you be granted God’s favor as you work for us and may you be given wisdom to help heal the various divisions in our country and find compromise in areas of opposing ideologies.  Neither party is completely right nor is either party completely wrong.   Extracting compromise will be your toughest challenge, and quite possibly ours.

I pray that you will listen carefully.  I pray you will hear what the citizens are asking for and what they are not.  I pray all viewpoints will have representation as you lead all parties and as you enact or veto legislation.

I pray you can be an example of fiscal stewardship and policy accountability.  I pray you will be given wisdom and favor to help you in these areas.

I pray you will seek God’s guidance first and seek His righteousness regarding every man and woman you send overseas or even keep in our homeland that are entrusted with the sacred honor and sadly, sometimes sacrificial duty required of those called to keep our country safe and free from harm.  I pray you personally understand the depth of the loss experienced by the families who personally lose an American hero.

I pray for wisdom to know what is worth fighting for and what is simply a tactic to drain us of our most precious resource of all: human life.

I pray you have courage to call evil by its name when it surfaces.  If we can’t identify evil by its calling card, we will not be able to identify who is our enemy.

I pray you will value human life from the baby who has not been born, to the aged citizen who, though they may no longer be productive, contains the wisdom of the ages if we would indeed listen and learn from them.

I pray you will receive and give honor worthy of your high calling.  I pray you always remember the office and the magnificent country you represent every time you shake a hand, sign or veto a piece of legislation, or meet with foreign dignitaries.

I pray you will be a beacon of light, a representation of honor, a speaker of truth, and a living demonstration of both peace and strength, and above all treasure the sacred honor of being called the President of the United States.  May you value your calling as highly as we who love our country value being an American citizen.

As you walk and serve, may you walk with God.   For with God, ALL things are possible.  We know that ALL things, even divisive elections, can be used to work for good.

This is your time.  May God abundantly bless you as you find your way in the pages and memories forever chronicled in our American history.

Amen.

The Intern of Inexperience

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1960s Ad Campaign – David Ogilvy

     I once had a job where I didn’t know what I was doing.  Or rather, I vaguely knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t know why or how it related to anything else.

I was eighteen and a senior in high school.  It was my best year of high school and I had carefully orchestrated my junior year so that by the time I was a senior, I could participate in what was known as a “work-release” program.  Every day at 11:30 am, I got to leave school and drive promptly to my ultra-prestigious job where I worked as a—well, I’m not sure exactly, the title part evades me now, but I worked at IBM.

I think I may have had a tad of over-inflated ego back then, because while my peers were stuck in jail class, learning how to conjugate verbs and learning useless theories of geometry, I was out and about in the world, co-mingling with grownups.  Yes, I was working with the same generation of adults, my classmates and I spent most of our time avoiding or lying to.

These elders were different.  They liked me.  They respected me and paid me!   I actually listened to them and did what I was told.  In fact, it made me fairly happy to do exactly what they told me, and do it correctly, and on time.  They complimented me on my youth.   They were eager to teach me.  Before you had to worry about being politically correct, or sexual harassment (both real and imagined) the older men found ways to flirt with me without being over the top or skeevy.   It didn’t bother me at all!   I liked the fact that perhaps I possessed feminine charms that others took note of.

Here’s what I did: I went through reams and reams of computer-generated legal-legal sized stacks of paper with alternating rows of green and white with the perforated strips on the side that you could spend hours tearing off!  Do you remember?  The kind that was printed on a dot-matrix impact printer.  Ah yes, the good old days.  Now on this paper were printed lines and lines and lines of code.  I don’t know what it meant.  But I know I did something where I read it, and either left it alone, or drew a line through it.  But I don’t know now what I was referencing as being good or deleteable.

    And another thing, I worked with microfiche and punched cards.  This was the really cool part.  I had to go in a room with a silver box on the door that had a secret 4-digit punch code.  Only “classified” people had entrance to this room.  Apparently, I had clearance to do this job of mysterious description.  It went something like this.

On the upper right-hand corner of the microfiche was a set of numbers similar to this:

F033-346B or BE77-795J or PA17-9946

You get the picture.  And do you know what I had to do with them?  Can you guess?  Let me let you hang a moment in suspense.  OK, I’ll tell you.  I held them up to the light, squinted my eyes as I strained to read them, and then I alphabetized them.   That’s right! I put them in ABC order, or allegedly I did, to the best of my high school ability.  I had mastered alphabetizing hyphenated names, French names with apostrophes and names with titles that nearly mirrored the same names without titles in my Office Occupations class.  But the real world was much more complex than what I had been taught.

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     The last thing I did was visually scan the punched cards!  These cards were sorted, collated, and reproduced on a big computer and then I had the laborious task of visually scanning them and determining which ones were to be saved and which ones were to be trashed.  There was no green movement or recycling then, so don’t send me letters of protest please.  I was just doing my job. 

More complex then filling out a butterfly ballot or dealing with a hanging pregnant chad, I alone had the power to determine whether these cards were allowed to live in archives or were trashed, presumably to be incinerated.

Here’s the thing.  I look back at my first job rather fondly.  While my peers had to wait until after school to sling hamburgers and fries, I was working at an international corporation.  But like many CEOs of today, as well as much of the legislative, judicial, and some would claim executive branch, I didn’t know what I was doing!

    I was a cog in a wheel.  I did my part.  And that was all.  I didn’t understand it then and with the fading of memory, I certainly don’t understand it now.

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IBM – PC2

     What I do remember the most is a woman I’ll call Blaire who loved dogs and shared dog stories.  I remember my boss, a woman I’ll call Grace who taught me all I needed to know with tact, kindness, and a motherly protectiveness.  I remember she shocked me when she told me of the days when she used to see Led Zeppelin in the 1970s when she was a teenager.

I remember a man way older than me, a tender 26 year-old Italian Stallion who flirted with me, and complimented me in Italian.  Perhaps he was cursing me, but I smiled and it seemed like flirting.  I remember Johnny the Comic Collector who had stashes of photos in his desk of a very famous supermodel.  He used to say I looked just like her.

Yes, back before the digital revolution where SEC members could spend hours and hours watching porn, I remember being both amused and weirdly flattered by the almost-retired sexagenarian (in every sense of the word) who spent vast amount of times pining for the super model whom he’d never meet, and telling me the tall tales of super heroes who came to life in his vast comic books collection.  He especially holds a special place in my heart and perhaps is the reason I’ve always loved Spider-Man.

Our lives mirror my first job.  We wake up every day and show up at life.  Most of the time, we have no idea what we’re doing.  We know at the end, we’re going to be let go.    We have to learn to deal with people of all personalities.    But the really cool and confusifying part is certainly the job itself.    Situations happen, and we are utterly clueless how to proceed forward.  More often than not, we spend our days like I did:  Staying extremely busy all day, but without a clear understanding of how our job relates to the others around us.    We are but a thread in a giant tapestry, yet if stretched too tight we break.  We become unraveled.

My prestigious job ended and it only went downhill from there.  Now I’m working FOR FREE but I’m doing what I love.  I don’t plan on retiring from this penniless position until I either go down in flames or wake up in foreclosure.  I’ve had plenty of jobs where I worked for money that were less than thrilling, but I usually am able to muster up enough positivity to make the best of even the less desirable jobs.

I agree with Oprah when she claimed, “Work at doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  I say even if you’re working at your job or your life with no clue as to what you’re doing:

  1.  Act as if you do; believe as if you’re promote-able.
  2. Enjoy the process; you’re bound to learn something.
  3. Cherish people, not position.
  4. Surrender the outcome—remember, you’re let go in the end anyway!

Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go alphabetize my spice rack and CDs again.

I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!

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When I was a child, I remember my mom owned a book titled “I’m Ok; You’re Ok”.  OK, blogger’s disclosure here:  I have never read the book.  Sixty seconds of research on Amazon clearly puts me in my place; this is a distinguished writer who not only has the letters “M.D.” stenciled by his name, but has sold copies in the millions!  As if psychoanalyzing the dynamics of our parent/adult/child relationships to one another wasn’t totally gratifying, this doctor ultimately skyrocketed to fame with his book and subsequent movie “Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal”.    Second disclosure:  Glad I didn’t share couch time with him!

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to present myself:  Liz, amateur blogger who has zip, zero, nada credentials other than The School of Hard Knocks and The University of Life’s Experiences.   I am an expert in many subjects though; particularly the ones I deem worthy of arguing over.  Everything else is irrelevant.  Capishe?

Anyway, in my humblest of opinions, I really think most people would find ourselves and could skip years of therapy and countless thousands of dollars if they could just read one of dozens of books I eventually plan to write –barring unforeseen distractions of course!   I will call it:

“I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!”

Born just a few decades shy of the new millennium, I, like many of you experienced big life events.  Off the top of my head I remember these events, both external and internal, in a world that started out with time moving slowly. Now time seems to move at the speed of light thanks to the exponential increase in technology and access to world and interpersonal events simultaneously.    This is my truth as I remember it:

  • I turned four in a new house.  This time, it was a two-story home.
  • Our family got a brand new color TV!
  • The next day we saw Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon.
  • Our new color TV became my mom’s CNN when the Watergate Hearings started.
  • I turned eight that day.  “As the World Turns” was suspended.    I was covered in poison ivy.
  • President Nixon said he was not a crook.  I remember he was like the Beatles in this regard; he was famous and he also gave America the peace sign.
  • I repeatedly sat in the scorching heat and was bored to death in the back of my mom’s Impala as we waited forever to get gas before it ran out.
  • President Nixon, besieged by scandal, scowly jaws, and a neck that always seemed to turtle into his shoulders, resigned.
  • My cat had kittens and then my dad didn’t come back one day.  Then my parents divorced.  And I had to give all the kittens away.
  • Life was not always sunshine and lollipops.
  • I turned eleven.  On my birthday my dad stopped by.  He tied a red bandana around my eyes, put a cowgirl hat on my head, and gave me some genuine leather cowgirl boots.  We rode in his Porsche convertible 911 Targa to an unknown destination.  When he took off my blindfold, I was standing at a field near a stable. He had bought me a horse—the horse of my dreams!   I was so lucky!
  • I got the consolation prize but my mom got stuck with all the responsibility of raising me during the height of my future rebellion.  We are still very close to this day.
  • Then Elvis fell off his porcelain throne and died on his bathroom floor.  The whole world cried.  Did I?  I can’t remember.
  • I read CS Lewis’s “Alice and Wonderland” and got lost for a few days.  A love affair with words and imagination ensued.
  • I turned 12.  My horse got very sick.  I lay against her belly and cried copious tears on the hard ground when we had to put her to sleep.  I’m not a brave person, but I learned I could face it when the time comes to tell our pets good-bye.
  • I got my period and then over 900 people died in Jonestown, Guyana.  I do remember crying over that when I realized this scene repeated itself hundreds of times:  Parents gave their kids Kool-Aid.  Then they died.   Why?
  • I started high school.  My friend’s brother drove me to school in a 1970 VW Bus with a silver foot shaped gas pedal.  The van always smelled like reefer, but it didn’t bother me because I had a secret crush on him.  We never talked to each other.
  • John Lennon was assassinated.  Then my mom and I celebrated Christmas, just us two and our cats, for the fifth time.
  • Summer came.  I started liking boys more than girls.
  • Second year of high school was in session and John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill President Reagan to impress Jodi Foster.    Then I got my driver’s license.
  • That summer the sandy haired boy with the reefer bus committed suicide.  He left behind a daughter and girlfriend.  He never knew I liked him “more than a chauffeur.”  I was not a good friend to the sister he left behind.  Death makes people who aren’t grown up yet drift apart.  I wish I could tell her I’m sorry now.
  • Next I dated someone who was immature and sometimes cruel.  I got smart quick.  I dumped him fast.
  • I met my second boyfriend.
  • I worked all through high school.  Then I graduated.
  • A week later I moved out into a brand new mobile home with my boyfriend.  It hurt my mom because I didn’t give her any warning.
  • After four years I married that second boyfriend.  We had ups and downs, and stayed busy with three amazing kids who did every activity under the sun.  We traveled, we camped, we loved, we lost, and we loved again.  The cycle of life’s events big and small, internal and external happened, all over again.  Only this time it seemed to go by even faster, and with more of us.  We have a mostly good life today.  Some say blessed; I do.

Why?

It’s because we’ve both learned how to graciously—well, on most days, accept one another and those around us in the world as they truly are.  That is, “I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!”

We both had childhoods that were indeed mostly happy, full of play, and learning, friends and family.  Yet from time to time, we took turns getting suddenly thrown out of “Happyville”.  Leaving Happyville, was always followed up by temporary internments in the tenement slum housing known as “Dysfunction City”.

We all went through this.    Yes, we children of the Age of Aquarius, this new dawn of enlightenment and reason, all had to endure these universal hardships of life:

Hurt.  Sadness.  Disappointment.  Unfairness.  Events beyond our control.

But here’s the good news:   The bad didn’t last.  It never does!  As God wove the threads of our life’s tapestry, these hard things became the torn threads that gave our life, our tapestry, its character and its absolute richness.    The master weaver is still at work.

We live and we dream and the world just keeps on turning.   God is in control.  And we’re all going to be okay.  Mostly.

And we know that in all things,  God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

ImageLiz and Her Horse Patches – 1976

All Aboard The Care-of-Self!!

Having a two-year old is like having a blender that you don’t have the top for. — Jerry Seinfield

There’s a certain word my son just can’t seem to say.  All kids go through this phase when they are toddlers and learning to speak. Generally,  by fix or six, they have mastered the pronunciation of most words they know.    But one word, my son never bothers to correct, even though I have told him the correct way to say it, is:  CAROUSEL!

He has always insisted it’s called The Care-of –Self.   Which knowing him and his sweet personality, it fits.

When he was a baby, much to my sometimes horror, he would lovingly pat any woman who held him, in the chest—top, dead, center as it is known in mechanical terms.   As a toddler he called these lovely items:  Mashers.  I noticed from the time he could speak, whenever he didn’t know a word; he just gave an item a word that seemed to fit.

Certainly mashers fit the name of someone prone to his proclivity, as well as the aforementioned item being squashed by small hands.   I used to warn moms, grand moms, and even young teenage girls, if they were to pick him up, “If you’ve got them, he’ll get them!”  Thankfully, he’s outgrown this innocent toddler behavior—well hopefully until at least the late teen years.

I wish I remembered more of this early vocabulary he created.  At five, he first became aware that people die and ultimately are buried in cemeteries.   So whenever we’d pass a cemetery in the car, he’d say, “Look Mom, there’s a ghost hive!”  On Mother’s Day, he always wishes me “Happy Saint Mother’s Day!”

One of the funniest words I recall was about a time he had used the bathroom and unfortunately the toilet clogged and ran over.  “Mom!  HELP!”  I came running as fast as I could.  He was tearing up and said, “Help!!  There’s “toilet juice” all over the floor!   It’s disgusting!”   Indeed it was, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at his description.

Another time, even though he was already five, he pointed at a robin scampering across our yard.   Strange little creatures, you’re more likely to see them on the ground, then above your head.  But he saw it and pointed out, “Look mom, it’s a Robin Red Chest!”

Once at the playground, a child bolted down a plastic curvy slide so fast, that his hair stood totally on end!  My son noticed this scientific phenomenon and yelled out, “Mom, his hair ran out of gravity!

Only a few months ago, he observed an apartment close to our home that had burned down several months ago.  Construction crews had started stripping it down to the foundation, removing all of the burned siding, and clearing out the burned interior.   When we passed this apartment, he noticed the new crews working.  He pointed at it and said, “Now all the house needs is its skin on it.”

I wrote down a handful of these words over the years, but the majority of this creative-speak simply evaporated into the atmosphere and that makes me sad.

See he is growing up now.  The first trimester of childhood, that is the first six years, is already up.  How can this be?  He’s my mid-life baby whose sole responsibility is to keep me young, busy, and on my toes until my late fifties!

I have just one piece of advice to all you young, and young-at-heart wonderful mommies out there.  Somehow, somewhere, write down those cute little things your boy-wonder or little starlet says.  I know you already take a million digital pictures, but make sure you jot down somewhere those “first REAL words”.  You think you won’t forget this ever, and by next Tuesday you’ll have no idea what that cute thing was, only that they said “something” adorable.  Keep a notepad in your car, your diaper bag, or purse with attached pen so that you can capture it.  Even if you just shove all your little notes in a folder with your kids name on it, you’ll be glad later.

I know the days of early motherhood can be long.   The duties are harsh, your “to do” list borders on cruel and inhumane, your body is tired and worn out, and all your efforts are consumed with orchestrating nearly everything:

  • Coordinating play dates!
  • Providing top-notch educational experiences!
  •  Teaching little ones to tinkle and stinkle in a potty!
  •   Learning how to read words!
  •  Breaking up fights among siblings!
  • Planning three nutritious meals a day and snacks that are nibbled yet never entirely consumed!
  • Hourly diaper changes!
  •  Grocery and supply shopping!
  • Acres of dirty laundry and hours of cleaning that are never seen!

You spend your days navigating the disaster zone of spilled cheerios, leaking sippy cups, and a minefield of sharp, talking toys, as well as the brigade of ten thousand tiny pieces (kit toys).

Yes, I know!  You moms are at your most amazing, when you feel the least visible and the most vulnerable to losing the last shred of YOU!   Time moves simultaneously at the speed of light and slower than a snail’s pace.

Just remember this:

These sweet days will pass.  These little darlings will grow.  You will get through this!  And ultimately you will be begging your mind to remember one day those subtle moments when each of your sweet children said something precious or did something adorable.

The journey of motherhood is an arduous one.  You will learn a new language and skill set right along with your baby.  So whenever you can, however you can, find the ways to rest your body, and nourish your soul:

  • A call to a friend while sitting down, not tending to a child
  • Read a great book or magazine at nap time
  • A box of chocolates!  Calories don’t count if you’re near tears anyway.

As I hit submit on this post, I am praying this simple prayer:

“Lord, for any mom today that needs encouragement desperately, please let her know she is super amazing!   I don’t know who she is, but I know she’s giving with everything she’s got to her family.  Reward her faith and let her feel appreciated and loved.  Make sure she is blessed with the knowledge that she is a good mom and may she at least once today have the opportunity to board “The Care of Self”.