Friday, August 31, 2007

L is for Lucky

All my life, I've felt lucky. I've had my share of ups and downs, down and outs, but they didn't last. I feel lucky that I came out of those times with just a few scars. There are some people when I look at their lives and things that happen to them day in, day out, I wonder do those things happen to me and I react or respond differently, or do those things just not happen to me.

I believe the old saying "You make your own luck" is true to some extent. We make choices about things we do and the reactions we have to the outcome. Being lucky or feeling lucky is being open to things that get in your way -- it's a positive attitude, the proverbial lemonade experience. And I believe expecting good things makes good things happen. I have good hunches and good intuition. Sometimes I don't listen to it, but it's there and if I can get out of my head and pay attention to my gut, I'd probably be better off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

K is for Kick

I just returned from a solo shopping spree at the grocery store and I admit I'm almost giddy. For some reason, it was a real kick. When I buy groceries alone, there's a magical permission that is present and I feel freer to buy things I want without discussion about price or need or how or when we will use it. Maybe to say it was fun is a sad statement about my life, but there you have it. It's the little things that make me happy.

I read recently that if you take a few minutes a day and think about things you love -- special people, the smell of fresh laundry, new rain, autumn leaves -- anything -- and while you're meditating on this list, hold your left index finger with your right fingers, grasp it, if you will. This connection can be used later, when you feel stressed. Just grasp your finger in the same way and those pleasant thoughts will tumble in.

The next time I find myself not getting a kick out of the little things in life, I think I will try it.

J is for Juggle

When I think of juggle, I think of three things in the air, one right after another, the success of it is being each item having equal time. These days, my life is a constant juggle. The problem is there are usually more than three things and it's impossible to give them equal time. I have to concentrate to keep them in the air and not drop one.

I got out my calculator and figured that I spend 60% of every 24 hours sleeping and working. Those aren't options. That leaves me 9.6 hours a day for creative outlets such as calligraphy and books, exercise, cooking and eating, social interaction, self care, shopping and miscellaneous. That doesn't count down time, which I also require.

I wish I hadn't done that. I think it's stressed me out now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I is for Imperfection

I was taken aback this weekend by a woman in my class who does exquisite work but who looked tormented when showing it because she did not think it was perfect enough; she was not happy or satisfied or even pleased. It made me very sad for her and made me want to embrace all the imperfections that are me. I guess there's a fine line between striving to improve and being so unhappy with where we are that we can't enjoy the journey.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

H is for Help

Help is one of those things that I am not real good about asking for, but yet something that I love to give.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

G is for Growing Older

Please note I did not say "growing old." I have accepted growing older quite nicely -- the number doesn't bother me at all. What I don't like are the unexplained changes in my body shape, the way my system handles what used to be normal occurrences. Sometimes it's as if aliens have invaded this body. I don't recognize it at all. There seems to be a time when the recognition of age clicks. I remember being in my late 30s, maybe 38 or so, and all of a sudden I became aware that men weren't looking at me, they were looking at my daughter. It was one of those moments that I really realized I was getting older. The awareness now is one of realizing that I can't get everything done. I've always operated with the idea that I can do anything and knew few limits -- not that I actually DID everything, but I felt like I could. I'm more aware of limitations. On the other hand, I am a lot freer to say or do or think what I want than I've been in the past. It's a liberty I'm giving myself. It's kind of odd to think it doesn't matter.

Monday, August 20, 2007

F is for Fall

By fall, I mean "accident" and not the season. A little over four years ago, I took a tumble that in retrospect had quite an impact (no pun intended) on my life. Tom and I often recount the things which that particular event changed. For one, he was living in Las Vegas at the time, not knowing if he would return to our marriage. I didn't know if I cared. When I got home from the emergency room, I called him and he returned to Tulsa for a month to take care of me. He went back to Vegas when I was able to go back to work. Odd as it is, my fall ended up being a wake-up call for him and I believe saved his life. He did come back to our marriage, we went to counseling, and here we are. Had he not come back, he wouldn't have gone for a physical (at my insistence) which unveiled early diagnosis of colon cancer. That's a big impact.

The six weeks during which I recovered was one of the most peaceful times of my life. I had to recognize that there was nothing I could do to correct things. I gave up control. I put aside vanity. I still remember how peaceful I was during that time. That acceptance is still present when something happens and I start to question why. It's a constant reminder that we are not in charge -- no matter how much we want to be or think we are.

I remember the day of the accident laying in bed and praying "If there's something I'm supposed to get out of this, don't let me miss it." I hope I got the point.

These photos are from the day of accident and 2 days after surgery, about a month later. It still gives me chills to look at these.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

E is for Enough

Every now and then, I allow my life to get overloaded, my senses overstimulated. When that happens, I've learned after a lifetime to say "enough." At that point, I withdraw or back up or just get quiet until I am able to process everything around me.

The idea of "enough" came to me through Sue Bender's book, Everyday Sacred. I was confronted with that book several times during one weekend in which that I had escaped and was trying to regroup and figure out what was going on with me. The book kept presenting itself until finally I bought it. I didn't begin to read it until I was on the flight home. The first chapter I read (and it wasn't the first chapter in the book) was about a religious tradition where a monk sets out with his empty begging bowl. The offering of food is placed it in and he accepts gratefully. The offering gives him strength to do his work. In return, he gives guidance and wisdom. The question was asked, "What does he do when he's feeling deluged?" The answer was simple. "He puts the bowl away. If he ate all the time there would be no time to digest." It was definitely an "aha" moment.

I know that sometimes I don't allow myself time to digest. I don't take time at the moment to process all that I'm experiencing or doing. But I've learned it always catches up with me and eventually I will have to say "enough."

Friday, August 17, 2007

D is for Dairy

... which I learned big-time this week that I can't tolerate. It seemed like such a good idea to have a protein shake as my breakfast -- quick, easy, on-the-run. Little did I know that my aging body would vehemently disagree three days into the program. I've been a yogurt, soy milk, little bit of cheese type of girl for quite a while now. A big glass of milk was not part of my scene. Now I know why.

D could be for diet. Not in the sense of "dieting" but in terms of what you put into your system. For me, it won't be dairy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

C is for Can't Sleep

C should have been for calligraphy or create, for curiosity, comfort zone, contradictions, cat, coffee, or Connie, but at 3:30 this morning, laying in bed, my mind kept saying "C is for Can't Sleep." I finally got up. I go through these phases of not being able to sleep all night. Usually it's stress at work or something like that, but I don't think that's it now. Ever since I got home from Las Vegas, my entire system has been out of whack. My eating, sleeping, digestive, activity -- all of it -- has been off. I guess I'd have to add that C is for confused.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

B is for Books

Books have always been part of my life. Saturdays at the public library were followed by draping my gangly young self in the swivel platform rocker in front of the picture window to devour my latest find. Then there was sunbathing with Lady Chatterly's Lover. My mother never knew. I find it hard to part with a book I've connected with. It's not that I'm going to read it again, it's that there's something comforting about seeing that old friend on the shelf.

Somewhere along the line I started making books. I don't remember what interested me in it -- the paper, the process, a class -- any or all of those probably. Making books has turned into a sometime hobby, a craft, sometimes an art for me. It's a perfect combination of left and right brain. Handmade books are so tactile, so precise, so manipulated and yet allow so much room for expression. Like so many crafts, books are made and then given away, but I have photographed a few before giving them. Below is a photoloop of a few books I've made, plus a favorite picture of Lucy "reading" a book. I love how serious she is with that book and that it's upside down.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A is for Aquarius

A basic starting point for me, my astrological sign, and maybe astrology in general. The first time I read a description of the Aquarian woman, it felt strangely odd to be seeing in print so many things about me that I had had a hard time explaining or verbalizing even to myself. So, I do believe in the influence of the sun and the moon; that they are strong forces that effect so much of who we are. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't follow recipes exactly as they're written. I just about fell over when I read that characteristic in a description of Aquarius, but it falls perfectly in line with my need to experiment, in thinking that a new twist might improve things. It's the tug of the moon that makes me do it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A to Z

I'm inspired by the Encyclopedia of Me that Bella Dia is creating in August, one letter at a time. Her idea is to write a post each day of the month beginning with "A is for..." and on the 26th day, "Z is for..." The posts will be different random topics that somehow relate to her life and at the end there will be something similar to Amy Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

With things like this, I"m often tempted to wait until the first day of a month but this time, rather than wait, I'm going to start tomorrow. Not only will it force me to think of something to write everyday, it'll be fun to see where it takes me. I would love it if others jumped in as well.

As our friend Dr. Seuss writes:
My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It's the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You'll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond 'Z' and start poking around!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What shape is your lipstick?

While my sister and I were in Las Vegas, I borrowed her lipstick one day and couldn't help but notice how different the shape of her lipstick was from mine. Our lips are completely different anyway, so I figured the shape of your lip must determine the shape your lipstick takes on. This morning, as I applied my favorite "Plum Baby," I wondered what your lipstick shape says about you. (Weighty thoughts like that often occupy my mind.) Lo and behold, I found a lipstick personality quiz via Google. Check it out here. My description is fairly accurate. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Completing the Circle

When I think that I actually said I didn't need to see my sister one more time, it makes me sick to my stomach. I came home from that trip a different person. It's funny that Kym always does that. When she came for Christmas a few years ago, we all said it was a magical time. There were more feelings, more joy, more love expressed that year than ever before. It was the same thing with this visit on so many levels. Although Kym can't talk and can't interact in the conventional way, the energy in the room was unbelievably positive. She was the one who brought us together. She was the one still wanting to give her children a connection to people who love them. It filled my heart to witness teenagers discovering someone who had their mom's hands, a young woman looking in someone's eyes and seeing pieces of herself, questions and answers, forgiveness and acceptance. I am oh so fortunate to be part of it and a witness both.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Not everyone knows that I have a sister living in Las Vegas who is 13 years younger than I am, and who has lived the last 20 years of her life with Huntington's Disease. It's a horrible, debilitating, neurological disease that has no cure, no treatment. I got a phone call yesterday that my sister was probably going to die within the week. I've had a lot to process today.

My reaction to the first call from her ex-husband was denial. I told him I didn't need to see her. Something about the way he presented the situation seemed to minimize it in my mind. I was asleep when he called, which I blame on part of it; he talked about the other times she'd been on hospice and he didn't know if this time was different; he didn't make it seem urgent. I knew I was at peace with my relationship with her. I had talked to her just last week. The next day I talked to my niece who lives there with her (with full-time caregivers) and she gave me the specifics. She made it seem urgent. She made it seem real. There was no decision but to go. Today I have been flooded with memories, with regrets, with sorrow, with love.

It's gets more complicated. My sister gave a child up for adoption 23 years ago. Her request now, before she dies, is to see that child. Her nurse thinks it's why she's hanging on.

It's eerie that the reason I called my sister last week was that the daughter she gave up had contacted me and wanted to meet her. It's almost as if she knew it was time. She's now making plans to go to Las Vegas.

There's something about a mother and her offspring. I read something this morning that is so poignant to this day: "A mother never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore." And this, "for she is impelled to know that the seeds of value sown in her have been winnowed."

So, this weekend, I'm hoping a young woman will meet her birth mother, albeit on her death bed. May they both find peace. She will also meet a family she has never known. And the children who have cared for their mother all these years will meet a sister they only recently found out about.

I tend to keep my feelings in an inner room, sometimes I shove them in there and keep the door closed. Today, I've had to open the door and let them out. There are too many to contain.