Sitting in ashes covered in soot

Have you ever looked closely at the story of Cinderella? It’s a terrible story. Mother dies,  father marries a bitch, two evil step sisters arrive, father dies, and Cinderella’s only hope of escape is a fairy god mother or a prince.

What are those chances?

Children grow up is situations that are less than perfect and for some, the only way they will survive is to go into a – survival mode. But when someone remains in the survival mode for the rest of their life, there’s a problem.

That is why I was shocked when after I had reached my pique of a frustrating, I heard myself say, “I’m done playing the role of Cinderella!”

I gasped! Who said that? I looked around in disbelief.

“I’m not Cinderella!” I exclaimed to myself. “I like my mother! I’m not waiting for a Prince, I’ve got a Hoppie! I’d be okay if a fairy godmother granted me wishes, but I’m not sitting on my ashes waiting for her to appear.”

So what part of this story was my inner self speaking to? Could it be … (dadadadaaa) … the two ugly step sisters? (I like to say ugly because it makes them less scary!)

YES!! I do that!! I know I Do!!!

When they walk into the room I shrink into the dirty, bucket carrying, ash shoveling, servant girl, who talks to birds and hopes someone will take pity on her. When the bully speaks up my first instinct is to meet their challenge, but the Cinderella in me shuts me down. When the unkind accuse, I want to make it right, but suddenly I’m covered in soot and feel unworthy.

It’s a role that seems so out of character, yet, it’s also second nature. How have I not realized this in the past? Why hadn’t I turned the survival switch off?

Many of us play those roles. Either it’s the victim orphan, or the victim of a unloving parent, a victim of limited finances, or a victim of bullying. And some times, we continue in the role even when our circumstances have changed.

It’s time to flip the switch and turn off the flashing neon sign announcing our victim-age. Let it flash and buzz and flicker until it goes dark. It’s time to choose new roles, new characters that have fun, who live life, and aren’t willing to sit on their ashes covered in soot.

I’m happy to give this particular role up. I gladly walk away. And going forward, the announcer in my head will loudly proclaim, “The role of Cinderella is NOT being  played by …. ME!”

Put down the shovel

Ever feel like all you do is shovel other people’s shit?

Before I explain, I need to make a little adjustment. You see I grew up in a house where we ate chicken chests and we wore top underwear. There were some words such as breast or bra that were just not appropriate. So the idea of writing about shoveling shit is well beyond my mother’s comfort zone. Out of honor and respect for this lovely and proper lady, I will now refer to shit as bananas.

Ever feel like all you do is shovel other people’s bananas?

I did. I was great at it!

 If you are a manager it’s basically your job description. Parenting requires it; kids produce a lot of bananas. Bad relationships demand it. There are some individuals whose purpose in life is banana production. 

I didn’t realize until recently just how often the banana shovel was in my hand. It may have actually become attached along with the yellow cape and rubber gloves. Someone would make a mess of their life and I was ready to report for duty. Bad decissions being made at work, I could fix it. If you produced them, I was ready to shovel them.

Not sure what the trigger was, but during a marathon conversation I was having in my head, I boldly announced, “I’m done shoveling other people’s bananas!” 

It was as if I had stepped on the handle of the shovel causing the other end to fling up and hit me in the head. In doing so, covering me with peelings and banana mush. Why was I waisting so much time and energy shoveling bananas when I could be…at the beach!?

It was surprisingly easy to set the shovel down. I removed the yellow cape and rubber gloves as well. I took a shower and scrubbed off the mush and residue of a life of banana shoveling. Then I got in my jeep and headed to … the beach. 

The shovel is still laying where I left it. It beckons me. It sends me messages of encouragement of how brilliant of a banana shoveler I really am. I says it misses me.

At times I’m tempted to pick it up and get to work – saving the world from bananas. 

When I feel overwhelmed with the need to shovel, I am thankful that there is a booming voice in my head that thunders, “Ma’am, step away from the shovel!” 

Lemon Limes or Lime Lemons

It’s been almost nine years since we moved to California. A move that was never part of the greater plan, but a plan that we’re so grateful happened. Shortly after we arrived we bought our first citrus tree, a Key Lime Tree. So excited we put it in a big pot, set it in the sun and waited for it’s fruits.

IMG_3293We waited, and waited, no fruit, just pretty little white flowers. It’s not hot enough here to grow Key Limes. So we bought a Lemon Tree. We put it in a big pot, set it in the sun and waited for it’s fruit.

IMG_3289After our first harvest of three lemons, we figured it needed a brother. So we bought our first Lime Tree. We put it in a pot, set it in the sun and waited for it’s fruit.

The first year I picked a beautiful green lime, cut it open and bit down with great expectations. It was disgusting! Bitter, dry, with a thick rind. Each year I let them get a little bigger but it never helped. IMG_3292

This year I forgot about them. It actually rained here and we were so busy watching the radar that I let my sad lime tree go.

One afternoon I walked to be the back corner of the yard to sit in a rare appearance of the sun when I noticed my sad green limes were turning yellow. “What the….?”

I let them go another month or so and to my great dismay, all my little green, thick rind limes, grow to enormous size and all turned yellow.

Go figure, it’s been a lemon tree all this time and we’ve been forcing it to be a lime.

There’s a really deep amazing life lesson there, but you’re smart enough to figure it out.

IMG_3291

Margins

The term marginal has been used a lot lately. Typically it’s used to describe those who are different, or have specific needs, who are not the norm. There is a very distinct group of people that come to mind when I think of those who are marginal.

If I step back and look at all the people who could be classified as marginal, it’s the majority of the world. It’s much easier to describe those who aren’t marginal, that would to be white, males, who think they make a lot of money.

A short time ago, someone listed women in their list of marginal people and I was taken back. “Hmmm, never thought of it that way, but I guess you are right.” And for two weeks I began seeing myself as marginal. I was discriminated against, I had less career options, I wasn’t born a boy…

It was for two weeks and only two weeks, because that’s how long it took me to want to throw in the towel, slit my wrists, and give up ‘cause I was born a girl.

Enough with that! Other women may be marginal, but I’m not.

If you close a door on me, I’m exceptional enough to know you’re most likely not worth the trouble. If you say no, I’m intelligent enough to figure out another way. Stay in the box, what box? Boxes can become coffins.

I don’t intend to walk through this life carrying the MARGINAL banner. I most likely won’t spend much time fighting the cause either. I’m a doer. I’d rather create a life from which I can help others.  A life others want to be a part of. Some may says that’s marginal, but to me it’s the full page.

If you find yourself in one of those marginal categories, I would highly recommend that you step out of the margin and on to the page and begin writing your own story. You can be whatever you want, even a white, male, who thinks they have a lot of money.

The best part about writing your own story – you get to set the margins.

Making Mojo

It’s a simple equation; negative energy fuels negative energy.  Doesn’t matter if it’s on opposite ends of an argument or coming from opposing opinions; negative energy fuels negative energy.

Remember your parents saying, “You can’t fight fire with fire!” This time they were actually correct. Fighting fire with fire –  usually creates a bigger fire.

I heard it explained that the reason the election went as it did was because both sides become so negative that the negative forces joined and became more powerful than the positive. We’re still feeling it. I can’t remember this much unrest since I was a kid watching the riots in the late 60s early 70s.

But it’s not easy to turn all this anger, frustration, and fear into something positive. That’s because there isn’t anything positive about anger, frustration, and fear. Allowing those emotions to control us is not only hurting us, it’s fueling the flames of the negativity we’re fighting against.

“WHAT! I’m not adding to it, I’m fighting it!!” I can hear you yell at me. If that makes you feel better,  go ahead and believe it. But it’s not true.

Even the peacefullest protest can add sparks if it’s done out of anger and resentment for what is, rather than a desire for good, justice, and what’s right.

So how do you balance negative energy? That’s also very simple, create positive energy. However, positive energy is not simple if you are drowning in the pool of muck of negativity. Just saying words that sound positive, when it really isn’t felt or believed, still equals negative energy.

“So basically we’re screwed and the whole world is falling apart and I need to buy guns to protect myself and build bomb shelters and stockpile food and stay home from work to watch the news and write nasty things on Facebook…” (I can hear your thoughts)

No! That’s what weird people do. When we find ourselves angry, fearful, and frustrated, it’s almost impossible to turn those situations positive. We have to be willing to unclench our hands, turn off our phones, change the channel,  ask our diner guest to leave, and begin thinking on things that are good, that make us happy, go to happy places where we find joy.

Once we do – we must STAY THERE for as long as possible. Why? Because we are creating positive energy. Positive energy, no matter how, or where, or what it’s created for, is the only way to defuse the negative powers that seem to be taking control right now. And the longer you stay in that awesome, fabulous, joyous state, the more energy we create and smaller the pile of muck becomes.

So let’s stop allowing yourself to be sucked into the muck! How about letting go and thinking on  things that are good, pure, holy, fun, loving, beautiful, exciting, energizing, abundant, adventurous, joyous, motivating, magical, wonderful,…

Create some positive mojo and watch the negative lose it’s power!

The Unleavened Life

There’s nothing more tiresome as listening to wealthy people complain about all they have to do to care for their wealth.” It should be a line from a movie, but it’s not. It doesn’t even come up as a quote on Google. I know, I checked.

slo-austynelizabeth008I figure if you are smart enough to acquire all that wealth, then you are certainly smart enough to figure out how to take care. Unfortunately, this assumption is rarely accurate.

Our family celebrates Passover each year. We do it for a couple of reasons; one is that we are part Jewish, or at least hope we are. The other is that we love the deep heritage that comes with the Jewish culture.

There is a point in the seder meal that touches me deeply. It’s centered around the matza bread. Matza is similar to a big flat cracker.

The simple Jewish translation goes like this: The Jewish people were waiting for God to free them from Egypt. They were so ready, and knew for certain that it was going to happen, that they didn’t put any rising agents in their dough BECAUSE when God said ‘GO!’ they couldn’t wait for their bread to rise. Thus they ended up with a big flat cracker called matza.

Life is so like bread. The more complicated the recipe, the more ingredients it needs, the longer it takes to make, to rise, and to bake.

When we live complicated lives, we miss so many opportunities. We wish we would be called to do great things, but if the call came, we’d have to let it go to voice mail and retrieve it when we had a minute to breathe, or next week.

It takes all of our energy to manage our responsibilities, debts, belongings and relationships. It’s exhausting, possibly even more so than listening to someone complain about it. There are amazing opportunities that cross our paths daily and we’re too preoccupied to see them.

An unleavened life allows one to answer the call, go when needed, grab an opportunity as it appears. A uncomplicated life gives time to appreciate the world around us. Freedom to enjoy the pleasures of life (without the drain of caring for them).

And when God says ‘Go!’ or “Now!’ or ‘Here it is, just what your were waiting for!’ – those living an unleavened life are ready, willing and able.

The unleavened life, it’s like a big flat cracker that goes anywhere you wish to go.

You can tell a lot….

My husband always says you can tell a lot about a man when you meet his wife. I’ve alway thought this was an interesting observation. It’s one that has never disappointed.

Some encounters can be scripted and without interruption, go according to script, word for word. Others are surprising, shining a new light on a side of a man not seen in his professional life. Some encounters are disappointing – but not surprising.

In the very recent political arena, this statement holds true for not only the candidate but also those who support him. I’ve stayed far away from politics these last two years and must say I’m better for it. I have just as much insight with no baggage. I fear those who have followed it’s every moment will take years to rid themselves of the muck they’ve allowed themselves to walk through. I follow the election like I watched American Idle; start watching 6 weeks before the finally and pick the winner.

This last weekend I heard a lot of “WHAT?” “Who are these people?” “Are they insane?” “That’s not how all men are!” coming from my husband as he scrolled through his phone. After two years of me rolling my eyes, putting my finger to my lips, and making the hand motions of a puppeteer shutting up her muppet, the one sided conversations ended with his comments.

I would like to think we’ve come a long way, but maybe that’s just in our heads.

Last week this was posted and it made me sad, because it shined a light on reality:

Imagine a woman who showed up (to a presidential debate) unprepared, sniffling like a coke addict and interrupting her opponent 70 times. Let’s further imagine that she’s had 5 kids by 3 men, was a repeated adulterer, had multiple bankruptcies, paid zero federal taxes and rooted for the housing crisis in which many thousands of families lost their homes. Wait…there’s more: she has never held any elected office in her life.      – Michelle Vitalione

You can tell a lot about a man when you meet his wife. You can tell more about a country when you meet the candidates running for election.

My Time Piece

My Time Piece

There’s a clock on the wall in my bathroom that isn’t audible until 2:00 in the morning when it echoes in my ears. From my bed I can hear every second that passes in the early morning hours.

Time is such an interesting thing to me. On one hand it seems to be completely man made. Who came up with 24 hours in a day? Why is there 60 seconds in a minute? Who decided?

Then I consider the rotation of the moon, the spinning of earth, the seasons, and years; it’s impossible to think that we can control time at all. Clocks that hang on our walls or the numbers that flash on our phones aren’t controlling, they are just telling what time it is.

How often do we say, “If I only had a few more hours in my day…” Or “I need an extra day in the week.” Or “There just isn’t enough time!”

Such comments force one of two statements to be true: Either the universe is screwed up by rotating the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun, not mentioning all the other stuff that’s spinning around out there. OR we are doing things that we need not be doing. (I vote for the second one – I’ll let you tell God he’s a screw up!)

Maybe time was never meant to be controlled. Maybe it was meant to be appreciated, respected, and cherished. Maybe each second that ticks by on the clock is a second of life, and breath, and love, and not a reminder of all that has to be finished, or started, or achieved.

Maybe the tick, tick, tick at two o’clock from the bathroom wall is there to remind me that I’m just a tick in this world and I can either enjoy it or try to control it.

I wonder why I can’t hear the ticking of the clock at six am, or noon, or when I’m getting ready for bed. Perhaps because there are too many other wonderful sound like the birds, or music, or voices, or life.

At two am there’s just me… and my thoughts… and the ticking of the clock that reminds me that time cannot be controlled, nor should it be attempted. Rather it should be cherished, appreciated, and respected.

I need to fill my time wisely. I need to get rid of the things in my life that steal this precious commodity from me. I may not be able to control time, but I do have the power to decide how I will spend it. If we truly believed that each tick is life, and breath, and love, then how I choose to use it would be different. It wouldn’t be waisted like loose change tossed in a bowl. Rather it would be cherished, protected, and admired like a precious gem handed down through generations.

Tick… tick… tick… there are only so many ticks in a day. Each one is a precious as the next. Together they create a life time. There isn’t one that should be waisted. None should ever be used for anything other than life, breath, and love.

But they said…

But they said…

My recent surgery to remove a large barnacle and two malfunctioning organs (details in the link below) gave me cause to seek out some advise, and there was a lot of it.

I asked those who had this procedure what I should expect. There was advise on medication, recovery, and the highly debatable – estrogen. Some said it was too risky, others said it was the best thing I could do, yet others said not to have the surgery at all.

I did my best to be a good patient and took all the meds prescribed. But one by one my body made it clear it wasn’t happy with any of them. So I heard the words, “You better stop taking it,” several times. And to my surprise, I didn’t really need any of them. The intelligence of our bodies is amazing if we shut up long enough to listen.

When it came to hormones, I had come to the decision that I would take estrogen from the beginning to avoid any shock the removal of such organs might have. BUT I wanted an exit plan, I would get off of it as soon as possible. I made it through four doses of that little blue pill before I decided the tingling hands and my brain feeling like a rubix cube might not be worth it.

When the words, “Stop taking it,” were heard once again, I wanted to do cartwheels.

I’m not afraid of all the terrible things they said I would experience,” I said. “I got to go through it sometime.”

“There are some hidden benefits to taking estrogen,” my doctor assured, “but there are alternatives that we will discuss on Thursday.”

So all day Monday I waited…they said I would go plunging into menopause right away. I was ready. I would take it on, full force, head on, I was ready!

They said I would winkle up like a prune. So I googled skin care oils and was amazed at all the health benefits found in Olive Oil and wondered why we don’t bath in the stuff.

They said the hot flashes could be an inferno and the night sweats would not be sweet.

They also said the I would loose all my desire to crochet (or sex, which ever you prefer).

“Please God, don’t take that away,” I said.

“OK,” I heard HIM say. “Don’t worry.”

I didn’t worry, but I did wait for the title wave of menopausal symptoms to consume me.

Day four, I was the same old me.

Day five, I waited…after all, they all said it would happen!

Day six, “Hey, I still think you’re cute!” I told my husband. “I’m glad,” he said.

Day seven came and so did the one week check up. My doctor and I sat in his office as he asked questions and answered mine. Finally I had to ask, “So… when are all those terrible side effects they said I would experience happen?”

He tilted his head a bit and shifted in his chair, “You’ve not had any?” he asked.

“No, not since I stopped taking the Estrogen.”

He looked at his clipboard and then back at me, “Well then, I guess it won’t be an issue for you…”

I know he kept talking, but I don’t know what he said because all I could hear was all they said and once again I wanted to do cartwheels.

We finished the exam and I met Jeff in the lobby. Once outside, I leaned up against the railing, looking at the beautiful clear blue sky and listening to the birds. The trees were in bloom and the parking lot was shadowed by pink flowers. Jeff thought I was tired, but I was exploding inside.

“You know all the things they said I would go through?” I said.

“Yeah?” he said pretending he knew what I was talking about.

“The Doctor asked me if I’ve had any symptoms, you know, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia. I said no. He said I most likely won’t!”

“Really?”

“I can’t believe it, everything they said, everything I was prepared to tackle, he said won’t happen.” I began it giggle and I’ve been giggling ever since; we’re now two and a half weeks later and yes, I still giggle.

What they said was important, because it came from their experience. These things really happened to real people. But what I’ve learned is that someone else’s experience does not have to be mine.

Looking back…I think something happened when I said, “I’m not afraid.”  And I can’t help but wonder if it’s one of the reasons HE said, “OK. Don’t worry.”

 

Related blogs:

Barnacles, Ovaries and Miracles:  http://wp.me/pEozB-s0

Crocheting (or sex, which ever you prefer): http://wp.me/pEozB-s9

Crocheting (or sex, which ever you prefer)

Crocheting (or sex, which ever you prefer)

I’ve wanted to write a little ditty on sex but thought it may be too provocative for some (or my mother) so I’m going to refer to sex as crocheting.

I personally fall into the category of only ever having one crocheting partner. I’m not sure if this is rare as I don’t think my fellow single partner crocheters are very vocal about it. I think it may be because we’ve been made to feel as if there is something wrong with us. I wouldn’t know, I have nothing to compare it to. For that matter, neither do those who have crocheted with many.

Those who crochet around have the chance to make new and exciting garments. Crazy scarves, colorful hats, and fuzzy mittens. For those of us who have somehow found a way to only have one crocheting partner, we create the afghans, the throws, and oversized sweaters. They may not be as exciting or colorful or current as the others, but they are warm, inviting, and comfortable.

When you are young, crocheting is fun and exciting; it can be an adventure. A little later on,  crocheting becomes a requirement if you desire to recreate little ones. No matter how evolved we become, someone still has to crochet to produce those desired new creatures. After the little ones arrive, crocheting can become taxing due to the over whelming fatigue that comes with wee ones. Life can quickly snowball into a busy life that pushes the yarn and crochet hooks to the back corner of the closet waiting to be rediscovered.

As you age, crocheting takes on a new life. The house is empty, the kids are gone, life in many ways is simpler. If you want, you can crochet anytime, anyplace, as long as you’re not too tired, or you hip isn’t hurting, or you didn’t eat something weird for dinner and you now have gas. Or in some cases, you’ve tasted a little too much wine and the thought of crocheting is exciting until you are snuggled under the covers and snuggling under the covers becomes the most awesome part of the day.

Many partners or just one, I’m not sure if either is wrong, they are just different. Each creates it’s own outcome in which the crocheter must own. Scarves or afghans, mittens or sweaters. I’ve only ever crocheted sweaters. As I look ahead to the next thirty to forty years, I am confident that there are new sweaters to create and olds ones to wear.

After all, when don’t you want to snuggle into a oversized, worn, cozy, favorite sweater?