Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ignorance is No Excuse (A funny Christmas memory)







Who has had one of those moments in life that made your face turned red, your mouth drop open, and your body cringe, simultaneously?

Come on now, admit it!  Many of those moments are remembered with laughter instead of embarrassment though, especially if enough time has passed.

I have a short Christmas memory story to share with you.



When I was about seventeen, I really wanted Steve Martin's " A Wild and Crazy Guy" album for Christmas.  I'd been hearing clips from that stand-up comedy album on the radio for quite a while. I thought it was the most hilarious stuff I'd ever heard!  His silly song "King Tut" was very popular at that time too. 

I did indeed received the album on Christmas morning!  I was so excited!!  After our holiday lunch, I wanted my family to sit down with me to listen to Steve Martin's comic genius.  So we all got comfy, Dad, Mom, little brother, and little sister and me.  "You guys are gonna love this!" I exclaimed.

Soon after I started the record, my parents giggled a little.  My brother too. I think my sister was too young to get it.  A little further into the jokes....laughter turned to silence, then confused expressions, then angry faces on my parents! Apparently my Dad did not appreciate the crude sexual stories and curse words. Suddenly, he jerked that album off the turntable!

I was as shocked as they were! (No, really!)  I sheepishly explained that I'd never heard THOSE parts on the radio clips.  The DJ had only played the G-rated parts. My Dad glared at me with a look that said "Yeah, right." He was NOT amused.

My siblings were confused. We were all having a nice Christmas afternoon, and then, unexpectedly "Oh, Di's in BIG TROUBLE! "

I think my parents did believe my story of innocence and ignorance after the emotions of the moment subsided. That was many years ago, but I would remember if that incident had ruined our whole day....it didn't.

That red-faced, cringing moment is now a funny memory that I am grateful to have. Ah, growing up was fun and painful and awkward and wonderful!  Recalling times like this renews my appreciation for my loving family and our good times together.




Monday, December 14, 2015

Speak to the Snoot



I think you are a friendly, kind, understanding person.  You see me as cheerful, patient and personable.

We have all seen the message many times on Facebook and elsewhere: "Be kind because everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
We all agree wholeheartedly! Until...
The jerk cuts me off in traffic. Or the customer service lady treats me as cold as ice.

Let us be honest now, we react. Even if we try not to show it outwardly (and most of us do), we immediately react defensively in our minds. Certainly it's not only me!

I really enjoy having a Starbuck's near my home. There is a strikingly lovely young woman who has worked there for a couple of years. But she was noticeably unfriendly to her customers.
She was polite and efficient, but rarely looked at me in the eyes. I don't think I'd ever seen her smile. I'd observed that same attitude when she served my daughter and others.

We have a good friend who had formerly worked at that Starbuck's with Snooty Girl.  She remembered that the young woman was stand-offish with her co-workers too.

Recently, the beautiful barista waited on me again. I hadn't seen her in a few months. My first thought was "Oh, she looks sad or annoyed as usual."  But I also noticed that her hair was different.

I ordered my java. While she was making it, I said "I like your new hair color! When did you have it done? I haven't seen you in a while."

Gloomy Gal suddenly lit up like I'd never seen before! "Thanks. I need to get it redone already." She was looking at me in the eyes and smiling. I made a couple more comments about wanting to try highlights like hers. She readily responded. We had a very pleasant conversation.

WHAT?

It's a known fact that most people like it when others take an interest in them. And people enjoy talking about themselves.

Frankly, when I saw  Gloomy Gal being her straight-faced self AGAIN that day, I thought "Maybe being a barista isn't right for her. We customers like friendly people to wait on us."
But when I took a chance by talking to her, she showed me a side of her that I'd never seen. It was kind of amazing to witness the change!

I challenge us not to respond in-kind to Mr. or Ms. Cranky Pants. Maybe they really are fighting a hard battle we know nothing about!

I am currently in a battle you know nothing about. You are fighting one too, aren't you?
We all cope in different ways.


I am not saying that we should always excuse bad behavior in others. I am just saying to give that person a chance or two.

Speak to the snoot. Smile and see what happens.  








Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Great Reason to Lose Sleep


The sound of the back door opening and closing woke me up a couple of times at first. Then, the loud squeaking noise of the oven being opened and closed.  I guess those dumb hinges need to be oiled. Oh well, it is an older oven. On the other hand, the entire house smelled delish!!

My story doesn't necessarily have a deep life lesson this time. I just want to share some of the joy of our non-traditional Thanksgiving week.

We didn't have a family get together this year. We planned to do it after Turkey Day, but things haven't work out. I am okay with it though- let me tell you why.

Many of you know that when your kids become adults, you often have to share them. You have to share them with their partners, their in-laws, their friends, their children, their jobs. etc.

They have to learn to share us (their parents) too sometimes. This has been the case with us, as my mother-in-law's health has been declining at a fast pace this year.

Our son and his girlfriend had planned to cook (smoke) their first turkey, to serve to a group of their friends on Wednesday, Thanksgiving eve. On Tuesday afternoon, he told me that he had the turkey. Even though it was thawing, he was worried that they wouldn't have it finished in time for guests Wednesday night. He asked to use his Dad's smoker and then confessed "We realize now that we really don't know what we're doing!" So we said "Come on over!"  

They hauled a huge, raw 19 pound bird into the kitchen in a big pan. Fortunately, my husband is a grillmeister! So he helped them choose the right wood chips to use and how much, how to lift the skin to rub the meat with spices...all that stuff I know nothing about.
They also determined that it would need several hours in the smoker.  Then it had to be cooked in the oven for a few more hours.

Our son's partner left for work about 8 pm, but Turkey Chef, Jr. stayed until almost 3 am. I'd gone to bed about 11 pm. I ended up being awake more than asleep, but I laid there feeling content.

I just loved having my son with us because I don't get to spend much time with him.  My big boy told us that he enjoyed the comfort of hanging out at our house with us. Now those words are sweet music to a mama's ears!

Oh, and the turkey was magnifique'! We got some of the leftovers.

It just so happened that my daughter was sick Thanksgiving week. Huge bummer!
She has a very active 3 yr old and her husband works full-time. He's had to work extra hours too lately.

Our recent playtime creations!
So, I had the privilege of going to their house and having some precious time with my granddaughter so her Mommy could rest. We watched My Little Pony, had a tea party, and built a castle out of canned goods. Is there anything better?

I was also able to be a nurse for my girl-child, taking medicine and drinks to her in bed.  I gave her a little Mom pep talk too.
Honestly, I am not sure who it helped the most, her or me.

I am very grateful that my kids live locally. I so appreciate the fact that they're so good to their parents!

I think we all experience that mysterious phenomenon of time passing faster the older we get.  I notice this often! I can't seem to keep up!

Sometimes I feel that I'm still not completely adjusted to my children being adults, or to the fact that I'm a grandmother.  I guess we've all been changing year by year, as life's circumstances change.
Just like everyone, we've had some difficult transitions and some wonderful ones.

Last year, our holiday season was sad and stressful. Maybe that's another reason I am so mushy-gushy about these recent special moments with our kids.  I think it's why I don't care that we didn't have a family meal together like we planned. It's often the unexpected little moments shared that make the best memories.

Alright, enough of my Hallmark sentimentality!

Yes, the kids are grown, but I am still Mom! My husband is still Dad.
We still wear our titles proudly, even if our roles are no longer the same.

I'm so glad that our children are independent and responsible. It's not too often anymore that we are needed in Momish and Dadish ways, but it feels so right when it does happen. You know, kind of warm and cozy, and even better than a good night's sleep.



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stinging Slap in the Face




The recent newspaper story about me was something I should have been proud of.  No- I was embarrassed instead. When I saw it, I immediately wanted to disappear from the earth!

Oh yes, expectations versus reality!

Sometimes we really struggle to keep our priorities straight, don't we? Occasionally we get a stinging but needed slap in the face to knock some sense back into us.  Or maybe it's just me.  Nah, I'll bet you wrestle with your emotions too.

I recently had a big "first" in my life.  My work was chosen to be in "Chicken Soup for the Soul", a collection of true short stories by various authors. I was so excited! A publicist from the company asked me to provide my local newspaper information, so they could arrange an interview with me. You know, a "local lady gets published" story.

I hesitantly agreed to do it. The interview went well and a photographer took a few pictures. The people were very nice to work with and it was a good experience! That was on a Tuesday, the story would be in the following Sunday's paper.

My husband and I decided to go out for lunch that Sunday. We bought a paper on the way.
We got seated and I tentatively opened the newspaper.
A feeling of complete dread just washed over me! I was expecting a short article and a small picture. Instead, I saw a full page story with a blown up photo of me, covering half the page. But was that truly ME? I almost didn't recognize myself. And WHY did they use THAT picture? I didn't remember scowling!  The article had a couple of mistakes that were misleading about my story too. WHAT?

I could feel a subtle panic start to rise up inside me. Anger too.  I almost burst out crying right there in the restaurant. I knew had to take control of this...this...THING that was getting a grip on me! It had the potential to ruin my entire day, and more.


My husband tried to comfort me by saying " Very few people actually take the paper anyway."  I said "Yep, and in a couple of days it will be lining the bottoms of bird cages." I tried desperately to laugh about it, but little tears leaked out instead.

I fought those feelings of distress all afternoon. I had to put the paper away, I couldn't look at it.

I decided to distract myself with Facebook for a while. I soon read some very sad news. A friend of mine had suffered a massive stroke.  Mrs. L had been a motherly-type friend to me for many years. In fact, I'd cried to her once about the heartache of losing my own mother.

I continued to read loving tributes posted by Mrs. L's three children, shared as they sat at their Mom's bedside. They knew she would not be with them much longer.
(She wasn't. Her memorial service was held the following Saturday.)

"THIS is what really matters in life! Not bad images of myself in a newspaper!", I sobbed to myself.

My heart broke for them. I knew all too well what they were going through. I was taken back to 1998, sitting with my two siblings at my mother's bedside, after she'd suffered cardiac arrest.  She passed away after four days in a coma.

What a profound way for me to regain perspective that Sunday! Hadn't many of my blog posts been about not sweating the small stuff, making the most of every day, and about finding purpose in matters of the heart?
My goal is to practice what I post, you know?



On the other hand, many of my stories have been honest confessions about how very hypocritical we humans can be. I've tattled on myself most of all.

Gratefully, my dear Mama-Friend, Mrs. L, loved all aspects of me. She loved everyone that way.

This unique woman made me laugh, she gave wonderful hugs, and was a compassionate listener. Her faith was the real deal and she'd been a spiritual mentor for me a few times. I'll never forget her.




That slap-in-the-face was one of those that hurt-so-good.  I confess that I did have cringing thoughts about the newspaper story again after that Sunday. Fortunately, they didn't last long. But I think the reality check I got that day will last a very long time. I hope so.


















Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dandelion Wishes



I've seen several references to dandelions lately.  What pleasant memories I have of enjoying them when I was a little girl! I can clearly remember blowing the white puffy balls of seeds into the air. Sometimes I made a wish, and other times I just watched them float away, wondering where they might land.  I can also remember picking the flowers when they were brilliant yellow, to make little bouquets for Mom or Grandma.  They were so pretty and fun and they sparked my imagination!

When did I start seeing dandelions as weeds instead of magical flowers? I can't pinpoint an exact time.  I'll admit though that sometimes I still want to blow the white puffball and watch the tiny explosion of umbrella seeds!

Even as an adult, dealing with the daily stuff of life, I still want to enjoy moments of fun! I never want to stop learning or dreaming. I want to experience childlike faith and hope!
I think you want those things too, don't you? How can we help each other?

A peek into part of my story:
There was a period of time, just about three years ago, that I saw weeds more often than flowers.

It was a time of grieving several losses and adjusting to some very big life changes. I'd always been a positive person, but I felt shaken to my core! I was more disillusioned than I'd ever been in my life.

But during that time period, and since then...
I've been blessed with wonderful gifts for my soul. That might sound overly dramatic, but it's true! I'll share more about those in future posts.

While going through my crises (that's plural), I'd often receive a little light to get me through a dark day. Sometimes it was a song I'd hear. Other times it was a kind word from someone, at just the right time. Occasionally I'd read a story or a great quote.
I like the idea of trying to pay those hope gifts forward now, with my writing.

I'm so thankful that the dark clouds have parted for me now! My sense of humor is still intact and so is my glass-half-full attitude.

It was actually during my personal battles that I started blogging for the first time. I also made the decision to take my life-long love of writing to the next level. I don't know what will happen, but I have to try.

Even though I'll never be the person I was before, I've decided that dandelions are just dandy!  Let's make a wish and make the most of our journey.