Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Sometimes You Just Have To Stop And Look At The Ducks

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“Mommy! Look at the ducks!”

My 3-year-old was tugging on my hand. We were at Walt Disney World. My mom and dad were racing ahead to catch the boat to Hollywood Studios which was just pulling up to the dock. I was torn. I wanted to keep up with my parents but I wanted to honor my daughter’s thrill at seeing the ducks.

Waving wildly at my daughter and I, my parents won. I tugged gently on my daughter’s hand and said, “Honey, we can look later. The boat is here now. We have to catch up with Noni and Papa.”  I urged her forward.

She stopped. She let go of my hand. She stamped her little foot and said, “But I just wanted to show you the ducks!”

My daughter won. I waved at my parents to go ahead without us. (They begrudgingly waited.) And I stopped to look at the ducks.

It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of Disney World and the sense of urgency to see and do everything. The same is true for the grocery store. Or for writing that next blog post. Or the sense of urgency to get that mountain of laundry folded. (Okay. I admit. I’ve never felt that particular sense of urgency but I’ve heard that some of you out there have.)  When I can’t fall asleep at night I try to figure out how many days you would need to “see and do everything” at Disney World and I fall asleep before I can come up with a worthy number. Disney World is full of things to do and see. It’s the greatest marketing ploy around, creating so much to do you just have to come back. And real life is the same way. There will always be another load of laundry to fold.

And so, when everyone is in a rush to catch the next bus, someone in our family will invariably say, “Hey! Look at the ducks!” Or, while navigating through the Christmas crowds at the mall my husband will grab my hand and say, “Look! I see some ducks.” It’s our cue to slow down. Savor. Enjoy each moment.

It’s a lesson we’ve carried beyond Walt Disney World.

It’s a lesson that bears repeating.

Whether you are at Walt Disney World or the mall or buried in laundry, remember, you can’t possibly see and do everything. Take a moment or two. Slow down. Breath. People watch. Ask your child a silly question while she still wants to talk to you. Hold your child’s hand a little tighter before he’s a teenager and rushing off to the football game without you.

Time will fly by fast enough.

No need to hurry it along.

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Where Have I Been? No. Really. Where’s Jane?

For as unique and individual as Waldo seems to be, does it ever strike you as funny that he’s so hard to find? I mean, seriously. Bright red and white striped shirt. Goofy hat. You’d think he’d stand out in a crowd.

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And then, there’s me. In a sea of other bloggers. Getting noticed, lately anyway, for my post on head lice. ‘Tis the season, I suppose.

But that’s all I’ve been getting noticed for in recent months. Previous, old, archived posts.

Because the recent stuff? Hasn’t been all that inspired. Oh, save your sweet accolades. I’m just saying what everyone else is thinking.

I haven’t been very inspired lately.

This panic/anxiety has been kicking my butt. But I get up, every day, and push through. As long as I’m moving forward, I’m happy. Well, as happy as you can be when you’re struggling.

But it’s a tough moving forward. This hasn’t been easy. And I’m dying to feel like me again. I get depressed and manic and so not like the glass-half-full me that I used to know. And that makes it hard to write. I feel my best writing is when I’m passionate about something or  tickled by something. My moments of passion are fewer and when they happen and I’m moved to write, I can’t sit still long enough to get it down. And the goofy things about life that tickle me? Fleeting.

I know. I’m a mess.

But some of you are still here. Some of you still peek in to see if I’m still alive. And I just want you to know, that touches me in a way I can’t adequately describe. You know me only through a computer screen yet you care like I’m you’re long lost sister.

I’ve lost quite a few readers. I know that. And I don’t blame them for leaving. I’ve thought about leaving, too. But to those of you who are still here? Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Knowing that my voice is heard, even when it’s only a whisper, means something to me. It helps me to feel that maybe, someday, I will find myself again.

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Filed under Confessions, Deep Thoughts

Contemplating My Navel. Or Botox.

Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror this morning….Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s start again…

Staring at my new crop of wrinkles this morning, I found myself musing….

“Hmmm. Maybe I should try a little botox. Just right here. On my eyebrow cleavage.”

You know the spot. Right between your eyebrows. It hadn’t bothered me that much before. But this morning, when I was contemplating injecting bacterial toxins into my body all for the sake of beauty, I gasped a little.

That just isn’t me. I’m happy with the way God made me. I’ve always said, I could never alter my appearance, unnecessarily, all for the sake of measuring up to society’s standard of attractiveness. Plastic surgery for accident victims or malformations of the body? Sure. But to emulate someone in a fashion magazine? Never.

Until today.

In my twenties, and into my mid thirties, it was easy for me to silently judge those who were struggling with their weight. I had the metabolism of a marathon runner. I could pretty much eat anything and not gain weight. If I thought about losing a few pounds they would seem to miraculously drop off. But then menopause hit. And I got pregnant at age 40. (I know. Odd sequence of events, but completely true.) And my mid-wife warned me that because of my advanced age, maintaining a healthy weight might be a struggle. But I didn’t listen. Now, almost 10 years later, I struggle. And I no longer look at others and think “They have no discipline” or “They must be emotional eaters.”

I am one of them.

In my thirties and well into my forties, I silently gasped when friends told me they tried botox or plastic surgery. Bigger boobs and tummy tucks. Getting rid of frown lines and the dreaded forehead cleavage. Be happy with how God made you, I would think. You earned that tummy with the four beautiful kids you have. You are beautiful just as you are. Easy for me to say. When the nurse at my physical kept shaking her head saying, “I can’t believe you’re going to turn 50 this year. You look like you’re in your thirties.” I admit. It felt pretty good. But now, when I think about the wrinkles, I absentmindedly rub my forehead cleavage with my index finger and it feels cavernous. I feel like I should do something about it.

I am one of them.

South Korea boasts one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the pursuit of beauty in the world. About one in five females go under the knife in order to enhance their appearance. The latest trend is the “smile lipt,” a procedure that turns up the corners of the mouth, creating a perpetual smile, not unlike The Joker, of Batman fame.

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If you Google bad celebrity plastic surgery, pages and pages pop up like this one and this one.  One article after another, exploiting Joan Rivers and Donatella Versace, Mickey Rourke and Michael Jackson.

Plastic surgery, to alter or enhance our appearance, is here to stay. It is a trend that seems to never go out of style. Procedures improve. More people jump on the bandwagon. We are not all blessed with exceptional genetics. And someday, the aging process catches up with all of us. We are bombarded with youthful images. Appearance enhancements continue to become more mainstream. It’s hard not to jump on and ride with everyone else.

But I’m going to try. Harder. I’m going to like what I see in the mirror and feel blessed that I don’t struggle with real issues, like burn scars and birth defects. I am going to enhance what I have with a little bit of make-up and choosing colors that flatter.

It isn’t going to be easy. But I think I’ll feel better in the end.

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We Can All Be Heroes Today

When senseless tragedy hits I have to find a way to cope. My own experience with this can be calculated by the before & after 9/11 timeline.

Before 9/11, I would cry, devour the news, curse the terrorists, curse God, cry some more and then, eventually, slowly, move forward.

After 9/11, I cry, scan the news, pity the terrorists, cry a little more and then relish in all of the Good Samaritan stories that begin to trickle through.

After reading a handful or more of these stories, I can move forward with gusto.

In my lifetime, I’ve noticed that with every tragedy caused by a handful of idiots, hundreds upon thousands of good, kind, compassionate, caring, amazing heroes emerge. It is a wonderful, beautiful, mathematical probability that can only be explained by love.

Man is inherently good. Evil, while it tends to grab the spotlight with a better stronghold, is rare. When faced with adversity, we DO rise to the occasion. We help. We care. We reach out.

And the amazing and far more beautiful part of the equation? Even if we are not directly hit by the tragedy, even if we live thousands of miles away and have no direct ties to the event, we empathize. We put ourselves in another’s shoes and we say to ourselves, what can I do to help? How can I make this better?

If it’s sending blankets or food. Or going to the blood bank. Or pulling out our checkbook. Or holding our children a little tighter. Or saying, “I love you” to those we care about a little more often. It all makes a difference. It all makes our world a better place.

1 idiot: thousands of Good Samaritans.

I’ll take those odds any day of the week.

everyday

Thank you, all you heroes out there. Those who were on the scene. Those arriving to the scene. And those of us, miles away, who are living today more mindfully, kindly and lovingly.

We can all be heroes today. Every day.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, In the News, Observations

O Come All Ye Old Fashioned. And Joy To The Handwritten Word.

The older I get, the more like my grandmother I’m beginning to feel.

She resisted change. She denied it’s existence. She’d pine for the way things were.

I have always thought of myself as someone who can roll with the changes. I may not have the latest iphone but I’m familiar enough with technology to create and maintain a blog. Okay. That may not be saying much but I still know people who use their computers for email and online shopping and that’s about it. At least I’ve taken it a step further.

I’m frustrated that a 4 year old computer is past its prime. I still have an old Blackberry and my daughter is dragging me, kicking and screaming, to update my phone. I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sure I’m overdue for a new phone by about 2 years. But it’s working just fine and I’m cheap. (I blame my Scottish great-grandparents for that trait.)

My friend just came back from a conference about her daughter’s progress. She, like me, is frustrated with the lack of emphasis on penmanship and math facts. They gave her some hooey about critical thinking skills being the focus. That calculators and computers are where it’s at. That someday, even typing skills will be obsolete. We’ll soon be talking into handheld devices that will type for us.

And here it is, December 6th and I’ve yet to receive a Christmas card. Oh, sure. There’s still time but I remember years when receiving a card after Thanksgiving got my butt into high gear, pushing me to finish our stack. Currently, our cards are gathering dust in the corner. I’m apathetic about sending them out. I guess I need the motivation. I need to know that others enjoy the holiday card tradition, too. C’mon, people! Send me a card so it’ll guilt me into getting with the program. Someone has to keep the US Postal Service in business. Let it begin with you. And me.

I have a feeling, within a week or so, I’ll start receiving holiday ecards.  Silly elves with your faces plastered on them, dancing a merry tune. A happy holiday catch phrase. And then your e-signature. Or maybe you’ll send a shout out on Facebook or Twitter.

Today, I sit here pining for the old days. The days of multiplication facts dancing in my head. Crystal clear penmanship, in silver script, on a good old fashioned Christmas card.

Call me an old fuddy-duddy. It’s okay. I can take it.

For as connected as we think we are with all of this new technology, I can’t help but feel we are missing something. True connections to the people we love. Fine motor skills. Exercising our brains with good old fashioned memorization. Do you rely on your address book in your phone as much as I do? Heaven forbid if my phone should die. Without caller ID or the numbers in my phone, I’d be lost.

And then there’s the care and time it takes to sit down and hand write a holiday card. The delicious thrill of seeing personal mail addressed to you among the bills and junk mailers. Instead we have fallen prey to mass-emailings and status updates.

O come, all ye old-fashioned. Pick up your pens. Write a card by hand. Stamp it and mail it.

Joy to the handwritten word!

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There’s Been A Divorce. Who Gets The Friends?

“That, whereas, the parties hereto will divide the once mutual friendships as follows…”

How much easier and comforting it would be if we knew who got the friends in a divorce. No hassles. A little haggling. But you’d know who you could count on and who you no longer couldn’t.

But that isn’t how it happens. There isn’t a judge or written agreement that chooses who will maintain a friendship with one and not the other. It happens more organically. The choosing of sides.

And sometimes, neither side is chosen. As lives shift and shuffle, friendships simply disappear in a divorce.

In my many years on this planet, I’ve realized a few things:

  1. Friendships are essential.
  2. Most friendships are fleeting.
  3. The friendships that have staying power are rare.

When I divorced, oh so many years ago, I was stunned with who stuck around and who disappeared. The ones I expected to be with me through thick and thin began to drift away. It wasn’t sudden. I didn’t feel like a leper. But one day, I realized we hadn’t spoken in a while, conversations were slightly uncomfortable, they weren’t the first person I’d reach out to for a giggle or a cry. And then? Nothing. No contact for years.

No longer friends.

And while I’m okay with losing a few of those people, there’s one friend in particular that I miss. Terribly. I feel a little hole where her friendship used to be.

But then, there is a dear friend, who rose to the occasion, has put in more than I deserved at times, to stay friends. A rare diamond of a friendship that I treasure.

It’s made me wonder. What kind of a friend will I be?

If 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and most of my friends are still married, odds are I’ll have to chose sides someday. (If you are one of my friends reading this right now, don’t worry. You are in one of the marriages that is going to make it. I’m talking about the other 50% of my friendships.) 

We’ll probably stay friends with the husband in at least one couples friendship. The wives in the other few. A morbid line of thought, but reality all the same. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pleasant. It’s just the inevitable.

I wish there was a fair, equitable and comfortable way to divvy up the friendships after a divorce. A method where everyone agrees and everyone is happy. Something finite. Something you can count on.

But there isn’t.

When there is a divorce, the friendships are casualties in a uncomfortable war. Sometimes you know immediately who will stick with whom. Sometimes there are surprises.

But it is rarely clean and clear cut.

It’s often messy.

And always sad.

Kind of like the divorce that got us there in the first place.

 

 

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, friends

Just Some Good Advice

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October 6, 2012 · 3:23 pm

Competitive Yoga? It’s Official. Now, I’ve Seen Everything.

There’s a reason I don’t share everything about my life with some people.

Competition.

My husband calls me a competitive person. And he may be right. Maybe. I like to think of myself as driven. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I enjoy success. But I don’t think of myself as competitive.

There is a certain frequent house guest of mine, to whom I may or may not be related, who is very competitive with me. While we were growing up we’d compare music collections, swim times, who had the “fattest” thighs. (She won.) 

Even now, as adults, I feel her critical eye whenever she visits. Who has the better relationship with her kids? Who has the nicer things? Who has the fatter thighs? (I win.)

I encouraged her to try yoga. And now when she visits, she wants to practice together. And check out who is more flexible? Who can hold a pose the longest? Who has the fatter thighs? (I still win.)

This past trip, I think I hurt her feelings when I said, “It’s really the only time I schedule just for me. And since I always end my practice with lots of meditation, I’d prefer to do it by myself.”

I feel bad that I hurt her feelings. But I’m glad I stuck to my Zen guns.

“Did my first handstand in yoga today!” – was her latest Facebook status.

(Cue subtle eye-roll.)

Her status got me thinking if other people were annoyed with competitive yoga-mates.

I had barely Googled “Competitive y…..” when the auto-suggest popped up “Competitive Yoga.” And not just 6 0r 8 hits. We’re talking 12,000,000+. A competitive yoga slide show, with an article in the New York Times, and another article about an Asana competition, topped off with a Youtube video entitled “Inside The Vicious World of Competitive Yoga.”

Vicious and yoga in the same sentence? Seriously?

It’s official. Now, I’ve seen everything.

And I had to giggle when 2011 Yoga Asana Champion Kelsea Bangora said, “I don’t want to show off. I mean, my own students don’t even know I’m a champion.”

Hmmm. Don’t want to show off?

Maybe you shouldn’t enter competitions?

Just a thought.

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Said No One Ever

Those ecards are a hoot! And I enjoy the “said no one ever” cards that have been popping up so much lately.

I have a few catch phrases of my own to add to the mix.

  • Reading blogs that swear and complain and shock me with their kitchy, inappropriate comments make me feel all warm and fuzzy and energized to meet the day, said no one ever.
  • I can’t believe the Kardashians are in the news again, said no one ever.
  • Summer vacation is a great time to organize the photo drawer and clean closets, said no one ever.
  • Those uber-moms who volunteer for every school event, plan perfect parties, create amazing, educational activities for their kids during summer vacation and always have a smile plastered on their faces are such an inspiration, said no one ever.
  • Your hourly Facebook updates are so entertaining, said no one ever.
  • I watch The Real Housewives of (fill in the blank) because I can relate, said no one ever.
  • Raw fruits and veggies are such a satisfying snack, said no one ever.
  • Those little kids are going to thank their parents someday for posting humiliating videos of them on Youtube, said no one ever.
  • Angelina Jolie truly is a saint, said no one ever.
  • I can’t wait until menopause, said no (woman) ever.
  • There just aren’t enough diet books out there, said no one ever.
  • I’m getting way too much sleep, said no (mom) ever.
  • The number of comments or hits on my blog mean absolutely nothing to me, said no one ever.
  • Beauty  magazines make me feel gorgeous, said no one ever.
  • Oh, goody! It’s another political phone call with the recording slamming Obama/Romney. I’m so glad I made it to the phone on time, said no one ever.
  • Life IS fair, said no one ever.

(Do you have one you’d like to share?)

 

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She’s Moved On And So Should You

Her crossed arms answered her question before she spoke.

She didn’t have to speak. The look on her face. The trademark crossed arms. Her favored one hip stance. All did the speaking for her.

Disappointment.

“It’s just been such a long week. And I really want to get to the airport,” I tried to explain. Twisting in my chair.

“But what about dinner? You have to eat, ” my grandmother said.

Leaning forward, I tried to justify my actions. “But Anna is so exhausted. I am, too. I’m so sorry. I know we promised but I want to avoid the traffic. We’ll pick up something quick on the way.”

Silence.

“Do you think you’ll be back for Thanksgiving?” she asked, eyebrows raised. Hopeful.

“I’m not sure,” I said, letting my voice trail off. I knew I wouldn’t. Maybe Christmas. Maybe next spring. But I was tired of the 1200 mile journeys. I wanted a break.

“It’s OK,” my sister chimed in, “I’ll bring the kids by next week and we can have lunch.” Trying to come to my rescue. It’s little consolation. I’m the one who lives so far away.

Then we said our goodbyes. And watched her on the driveway with her arms crossed. Not smiling, yet trying not to look disappointed.

Twelve years later the image haunts me.

“You have to stop beating yourself up over this,” my sister says to me over the phone.

I shift uncomfortably. I close my eyes. “I know. But I can’t.”

“There was no way you could know she was going to die. No one knew. She was always so vibrant. Even the doctor didn’t see it coming.”

“But I should have at least had dinner with her like we promised,” my eyes watering remembering my last broken promise to her. “I never even called her. That was the last time we spoke.”

“She’s moved on and so should you.” My sister is tired of this conversation. So am I. But that image of her still haunts me. That last image.

“Do you really think she’s forgiven me?” I ask, standing up now, watching a cardinal on our birdfeeder.

“Yes. She forgave you moments after you left,” my sister sighs into the phone.

“Ok. Thanks.” Not convinced, I hang up the receiver. And walk to the window to watch the birds flit back and forth. Leaning on one hip. Brow furrowed.

And arms crossed.

(This post was inspired by KitchWitch’s post which was inspired by the writing prompt at Write On Edge. Please visit Write on Edge   for more inspired writing!)

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