Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Signs - Part One

"God has prepared a path for everyone to follow.
You just have to read the omens he left for you.
Paulo Coehlo
The Alchemist

I believe God, the Creator, Spirit, the Divine Know-It-All, speaks to me.

Sometimes the voice is nothing more than a soft whisper of wind blowing through the trees, or the roar of the ocean inching toward the shore. It might be in a bird's song, a baby's laugh, or an old person's remembering. Sometimes I hear God in a crowd and sometimes when I'm alone in my car. The other day I overheard him in the conversation of those 3 young Scouts. Personally I would prefer God speak more in words that I can understand and less in signs I have to interpret for myself. That said, I'm getting better at recognizing the little (and sometimes not so little) nudges.

Like the other day I was thinking about contacting a priest friend to discuss once again what it means to be called to the ministry. It's a recurring question I have. One I am pretty good at ignoring. But it crossed my mind and within about 2 days there was the priest I wanted to speak to. I haven't seen since January, and I was in a meeting so I couldn't acknowledge him. But there was God's finger tapping me on the shoulder and pointing in the priest's direction.

And before that when I was trying really hard to forget about this workshop on grief, it kept coming up in ways I couldn't ignore until I finally said, Okay, God and registered.

In the last few days I've been getting signs about making lists. Gratitude lists, grocery lists, thank you note lists, dreams and desires lists. The kind of thing one would probably do if one was serious about taking a good hard look at her life to see where she's been, where she is now and where she might want to head in the future. The kind of disciplined thinking that I usually try to avoid then whine when I can't get a clear picture of my future.

My father was a planner and a list maker. I know this because while going through all his papers I've found many lists and record books that Dad kept over the years. Also it used to drive him crazy that I am rarely prepared beyond the bare necessities. The more he reminded me to make a plan, the more I regressed to my two year old self, dug my heels in and said "I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl". You'd think by now I would have grown out of that kind of rebelliousness. You'd be wrong!

[A sudden thought: Maybe it isn't God talking to me but my Dad still trying to pound his lesson into my head.]

I picked up a book, Living Life as a Thank You, last night. While I'm a believer in the power of gratitude, maybe haven't been so good at practicing it lately. How's this for a reminder:

"Gratitude can help us transform our fears into courage, our anger into forgiveness, our isolation into belonging, and another's pain into healing. Saying 'Thank you' every day will create feelings of love, compassion and hope."

Hmmm, I said to myself feeling that finger poking me again, perhaps if I want to start feeling less sad, less fearful, less angry, and less isolated, I should begin again to make gratitude a part of my daily routine.
So I am making the decision right now to begin listing every day things I am grateful for. Want to join me?

Today I'm grateful for:
  • a new sense of awareness
  • a son who makes me laugh
  • pictures from Weneki
Please stay tuned for more on this subject.

Wishing for you an attitude of gratitude,
Merry Me

Living Life as a Thank You, The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude, by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, Viva Editions, San Francisco, 2009, pg. xxiii

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

"It's a time to remember the Veterinarians"*

My Dad is buried at the National Cemetery in Jacksonville. It has become a kind of sanctuary for me. I love to go and sit at the base of my father/mother's headstone. I cry [of course]. I run my hands of the granite feeling each letter of their names. And I look around me at all the names of people who have served our country. Just to the right of Dad's grace, the marker says, "I did my best." As epitaphs go, I'd say that one is short, sweet and to the point.

I did my best. If at the end of the last day each of us can look at our Creator and say, I did my best, then I believe that is a life well-lived. Maybe it's not a life without regret, or sorrow, or pain, but undoubtedly one of truth.

On Saturday morning I joined Boy Scouts from Pack 541 and some attending adults in placing a small flag on each grave in a Memorial Day tribute. Before we actually began the work, a retired Marine who was heading up the project gave a short speech on what Memorial Day is all about. High on Krispy Cream donuts and a little bored from a previous speech on the same subject the boys were eager to get on with the job. I haven't met an 8 year old boy yet who likes to sit in the sun and listen to speeches. A few listened. A few drew pictures in the dirt with a stick. A few tapped their feet. Yet each was surprisingly aware and respectful of the task at hand.

Nothing but the sound of a chain hitting the flag pole could be heard when the boys were asked who knew what Memorial Day was all about. The group leader who had just finished his inspired testimony, must have felt defeated! Come on, boys! he cried. We just talked about this! Finally a shy hand shot up and when asked to speak, said in a quiet yet confident voice, "it's a time to remember all the veterinarians." OMG. Veterinarians! Sometimes kids say the darndest things! I almost tinkled I got so tickled.

After the speeches there was more waiting. I missed the Pledge of Allegiance under the huge U.S. flag (and smaller POW/MIA flag) that stand guard at the entrance of the cemetery. I'd walked over for some quiet time with Mom and Dad. Then it was time ...

[Perhaps not as precise as at Arlington National, but placed with great respect.]

For more instructions.
  • To mark where the flag should go, center your foot against the stone and place the flag at your toes.
  • Push the flags all the way into the ground - not just into the thick grass.
  • Be respectful.
  • Say Thank you.
Finally the Scouts were off, leaving adult "Slow down! Don't run! It's not a race!" warnings behind them. Young boys in blue uniforms placing flags on the graves of big boys/girls who had worn the uniform of their country so the little boys could run free. There was a synchronicity in it all that made my heart swell - in gratitude. My prayer is that one day these children (and their children's children) might know how it feels to "serve" but won't have to step foot on a battlefield.

[Following the rules]

While we were waiting, I overheard a conversation that made me think perhaps the world would be a better place if children could be the teachers and adults the students. If that were the case brotherly love and world peace might just have a chance. One of the boys had vitiligo (that skin condition where you lose the pigment so you are left with smooth white patches of skin) on his legs. He was wearing shorts so it was pretty hard to hide if he wanted to which I guess he didn't because he was wearing shorts. The boy on his left said, "hey, you've got two different colors of skin." To which the young lad nodded. Then the boy on his right, said "you are so special." And then there was a short group hug. No teasing. No snickering. Just acknowledgement and acceptance of their differences.

We hear so much about kids bullying one another these days. One little physical defect, learning disability, or extra pound and a child can be subjected to the meanest of words. If you ask me, it's down right cruel. I think that's why I was so taken by this brief but heartfelt conversation. I pulled my rather dated by still wearable Girl Scout smile from my pocket and thought to myself, yes indeed, you ARE special. Each one of you. May you always be aware of just how special you are.

Wishing for you time spent with a child,
Merry ME

*P.S. You know, remembering the veterinarians might not be that far off the mark. Along with the service dogs who also put their lives on the line and work under some pretty strenuous conditions.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Still Grieving

"Suppressed grief suffocates,
it rages within the breast,
and is forced to multiply its strength."

Four months and 3 days down, the rest of my life to get used to the idea that my dad is gone.

At the 3-4 month mark, so the pundits say, the numbness and shock of grief have pretty much worn off. In the beginning of grief maybe you didn't realize you were feeling like a zombie; or like a cry baby; or like you wanted to smash into the car in front of you for no other reason than it is the car in front of you; or like you want to stay in bed all day because you've got a 2-ton elephant is sitting on your heart. At the 4 month mark you are aware of these things, but still at a loss to change them.

What that means for me is that I seemed to have crossed over into the anger stage of grief. I wonder what I'm going to do when I no longer have grief to blame my erratic behavior on.
Sweetie asked me this morning why I'm feeling angry. Who knows? I fired back. Pick a reason.

  • Because the dog I love even though we've barely met has peed on the new carpet so many times that it now smells like the inside of a port-a-potty when you walk in my front door?
  • Because I can't even sleep in late and not feel guilty but I do anyway so I feel guilty and slept out and sore and pissy? [What happened to the good old days of being a teenager and sleeping til noon and not even caring if you had a big "L" for lazy emblazoned on your forehead?]
  • Because I want to finish getting my house in order but I'm stuck wanting to throw some color into the mix but keep coming back to one of New Mexico's umpteen shades of tan?
  • Because I don't want to be a big girl all the time? I want my mom or my dad here to take over being the adult so I can stop worrying.
  • Because if my Dad told me once, he said it 237 gazillion times, that I should be preparing for my future but the whole time I was supposed to be doing that I was also supposed to be focusing all my energy on him and while I did that I really never gave it any thought about what I'd be or do after he was gone?
  • Because people are being blown to smithereens in the Midwest and at the end of the day there isn't going to be a good witch with a wand and a pair of sparkly red shoes to make it better for them?
  • And did I mention I've been reading one of the most horrific books ever about WWII POW camps and wondering what the hell is wrong with mankind that they think it's okay to treat their fellow human beings the way they did/do? No wonder my dad used to say, "people are no damn good." And still, even when I think he may just have been right about everything he ever told me, I dig into my heart and say, no, Daddy, I don't believe that. Light and love will triumph even over the darkest of souls.

Depression is anger turned inward. I don't like feeling angry. I don't like feeling depressed. But what's a girl to do except put one foot in front of the other and get to the other side of this grief thing as fast as she can. In one of the boxes of stuff I found in my dad's dresser there was an old compass. It fits into the palm of my hand. I stuck it in my wallet and take it with me wherever I go. I wonder if it isn't time to tie it around my neck and follow where the needle points. I'd probably get where I'm going a whole lot faster than I am now.

Everybody who thinks I may just a little be crazy raise your hand,
Grouchy ME

Friday, May 20, 2011

Maybe the Sky Isn't Falling

"Fears are nothing more than a state of mind."

By 12:23 it was over. All the fears, the nausea, the rapid breathing. In fact, most of my symptoms went away as I stood in front a group of my peers, other writers traveling a similar path, and said, "Hi!" Of course I still had my presentation to get through but if I could have I would have turned around to face myself and say, "see. SEE. you can do this. it's not so bad. I'm so proud of you. listen to them laugh."

I tried saying those same words to the shaking girl in the mirror before I left home but she wasn't really listening.

I have to say there is something kind of heady about hearing an audience's reaction to your work. They laughed in all the right places. Places I'd written so many times I thought they'd failed to be funny at all.

When it was all over I looked at my Sweetie and breathed a sigh of relief. He was quietly proud, "the wind beneath my wings". I stood with my hair dresser, Chuck, who was the subject of my recital, and we both took a bow. He was loving the limelight and I didn't mind sharing. When I sat down there was only the tiniest bit of butterflies and they kept fluttering til long after I was home. Sweetie called it PTSD!

So what did I learn from all this?
That the chicken little persona is getting a little stale.
That without realizing it I've surrounded myself with talented, funny, caring women who embrace me (as I do them) wherever I am on my journey.
That my stories, like life, can be both funny and poignant. They can touch others on an emotional level. [I think that's what I like about writing (and reading) ... being able to say, "you too? I thought it was just me."]

And perhaps the biggest lesson of all that may take some practice and remembering.
About 5 minutes before the show was supposed to start, I looked at Sweetie and said, I need a pep talk. So he gently led me out into the hall and asked me what was going on. "I'm scared," I said, sounding a lot like Little ME.
What are you scared of? I don't know.
If you knew what would it be? I don't want to be embarrassed.
What would be embarrassed look like?Tears began to pool at the tip of my lids. I knew, but didn't want to open the flood gates. Being embarrassed looks like me doing the very best I can do and hearing my father say something about the "Mary Reynolds" show which to my ears did not sound like a compliment but a put down. Until almost the very end of his life he had a way of clipping my wings and whether he meant to or not (which now that I'm older I don't think he did) saying "you're just Plain Mary so don't be getting too big for your britches." And me doubting the reality of what others thought, the applause, and the laughter and the high fives and the hugs. It's the doubt that is debilitating. The difference in feeling like I did my best and yet left wondering. And then, even if I did my best, feeling like it puts me above others and I should slink away, embarrassed - not for failure but for success.

When I got home this was sitting in my inbox from Weneki:
Mom, I wish I could give you the gift of living free of fear.
There's just no need for this much fear unless you're being chased by a bear.
You're going to be wonderful, as you always are.
Just breathe into the anxiety, and trust that you're going to be okay.
Better than okay.
Don't empower the negative voice;
start hearing the voice you reserve for those you love.
The voice that peps me up and believes in me.
Turn it on yourself and feel the love and shine on.
Pardon my French, but fuck the fear.
:) Love you.
You're awesome and are going to be great today. Try to enjoy it rather than endure it.
~ wendell p. peptalk

Words I wouldn't have been able to hear before my performance. But words of love that begin to make sense. My daddy is gone now. Isn't it time to bury the negative voice and begin trusting the voices of the ones I love and who love me. Isn't it time to say:
Dear Carolyn,
Good job!
I'm so proud of you.
I know it was scary but look how far you've come.
There's nothing you can't do.
Believe in your words. Believe in your gifts. Believe in you.
P.S. I love you.

For all of you who have also been on this journey of discovery with me, thanks for listening to me ... especially when I whine and cry. I may not always be able to tame the boogie man but I think today might be a turning point. If I hold on to and emblazon it in my memory bank, maybe it will one day replace the negative voice.

"what I wanted today was their stories, their energy, their presence
I think we forget just how important presence is
I soaked theirs up this morning
I don't think I'd be able to survive without women in my life."
Terri St. Cloud

Wishing for moments of real clarity so you can see, taste, hear, feel and hold your own goodness,
Merry ME
what i wanted today was their stories, their energy, their presence.

i think we forget sometimes just how important 'presence' is.

i soaked theirs up this morning....

i don't think i'd be able to survive without women in my life.......
Terri St. Cloud

"Fears are nothing more than a state of mind."

By 12:23 it was over. All the fears, the nausea, the rapid breathing. In fact, most of my symptoms went away as I stood in front a group of my peers, other writers traveling a similar path, and said, "Hi!" Of course I still had my presentation to get through but if I could have I would have turned around to face myself and say, "see. SEE. you can do this. it's not so bad. i'm so proud of you. listen to them laugh."

I tried saying those same words to the shaking girl in the mirror but she wasn't really listening.

I have to say there is something kind of heady about hearing an audience's reaction to your work. They laughed in all the right places. Places I'd written so many times I thought they'd failed to be funny at all.

When it was all over I looked at my Sweetie and breathed a sigh of relief. He was quietly proud, "the wind beneath my wings". And I stood with my hair dresser, Chuck, who was the subject of my recital

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Feeling Scared .... Again

"Each time we face our fear,
we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing."

I can barely remember what I did yesterday, but I can still remember things from when I was a little, little girl. Like the time I was in a ballet recital. I was one of the three blind mice. I wore a gray leotard, a cute little mouse hat my mom made, and long tail attached with snaps so when the farmer's wife came after the mice she could pull on the tails and off they would come. At the dress rehearsal my tail was the only one that stayed on until the pivotal moment. The other mice's moms were sent home to sew on more snaps. As you can probably imagine, during the live performance my tail fell off while we mice were still blindly pirouetting around the stage and when the farmer's wife got close to me with a carving knife she had to ad lib.

It is not one of my most horrible memories as it was most likely blotted out by other dancing nightmares. Much as I may have wanted to be a ballerina, I wasn't coordinated or disciplined enough. And I learned early on that even though I could be considered a "Drama queen" in some people's books I'm just not meant for the stage.

So how is it that I've gotten myself into a writing group that for the 2nd year in a row is going to have a recital where we read our stories out loud to family and friends? And why is it so darn scary to read in front of people you know so well? Is there more safety in anonymity? As much as I love and admire our group leader, for the past month I've been one of three or four who have been cursing the woman and her "you're not just great writers, you're storytellers" theory. Just because she can do everything, doesn't mean we can or want to.

I've whined and bitched and bellyached, and edited my story about 50 times. In my opinion what started out as a fairly humorous little piece is now dry, sterile and too long. But what do I know? And who am I to rock the boat? If I've learned anything in this group it is that if I want to be a writer I have to be disciplined and willing to step out of my comfort zone. It does me no good to sit at the computer typing out words all day for myself. The whole point of writing is for someone else to read. So even though I've been a big baby about it, I'm somewhat prepared for my Friday performance. Today was our run through and I've got to say I'm running with some talented women who not only write good stories but aren't afraid to tell them. Am I so different from them? Perhaps only in my proclivity towards voicing my discomfort.

Here's the thing, I know it won't kill me. I know none of the awful things I fear will happen won't. And I'm not going to be wearing a brown stuffed tail that might fall off. So what's the big deal? Why am I always so damn scared?

Merry ME
aka Chicken Little

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To Clutter or not to Clutter

"Clutter is a physical manifestation of
fear that cripples our ability to grow."
H.G. Chissell

I was having a conversation with someone recently about clutter. It was kind of strange to be listening to this certain someone expound on the virtues of de-cluttering because except for me, she is one of the clutteriest people I know. Or used to be!

Motivated by the conversation I got up yesterday and cleaned both the refrigerator and the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I think there is some kind primordial growth taking place in the dark recesses of that cabinet. In the same way that microscopic organisms evolved to populate the world, cans of Pledge, bottles of Iron removing cleanser, metal polishes and sponges have expanded to fill their damp dark habitat. I find it highly unlikely that I would have bought TWO cans of oven cleaner when the whole time I've lived here I've had a self-cleaning oven. (What kind of a mis-nomer is that? No oven actually cleans itself, it just burns the greasy build-up to a fine ash that the oven owner then has to clean herself. But it is better than the alternative - spraying noxious fumes into a confined space then sticking half your body inside that same stinky space then trying to get your arm past your body to actually scrub the sides of the oven.) With the permission of the woman who answers the phone at the hazardous waste management office I poured several bottles of what I would consider hazardous down the sink. As long as I diluted it with lots of running water, I didn't have to worry, or feel guilty, about destroying the river down the street, the environment where I live, or the ozone layer. Sweetie says it all goes into our septic tank, as if making my own toxic underground lake is supposed to make me feel better.

The thing about cleaning cabinets that few people see, is that nobody but me can really appreciate the work involved or the job completed. Suzi Q stuck her nose inside the cupboard, but since she couldn't find anything to eat (which didn't have to be food, it just needed to look or smell good like, the basket of sponges practicing asexual reproduction in the back corner) she left me to applaud my own job.

Now the refrigerator is another matter all together. Should I even admit that I found a carton of cottage cheese (come on now, friends, isn't cottage cheese a science experiment just waiting to happen?) that expired in January? Since my father wasn't here to argue with me that the date on the carton is the sell-by date, not the if-you-eat-this-you're-going-to-regret-it-date, I walked it very carefully over to the trash can and deposited it as if I was handling nuclear waste. I've found that when I clean the fridge there is a delightful sense of accomplishment. I think it has to do with the way the glass shelves glisten when the door is opened and the light reflects off the white walls. Or maybe it's the orderliness of condiments lined up on one shelf, jams and jellies on another and a selection of salad dressings that would make a visitor think we lived on salads alone, on another. Every time I opened the door today, I took great delight in the sparkly and noticeably fresher-smelling fridge.

So I have to ask myself, why don't I do this more often? Why do I let it get to the HAZMAT point before doing something about it?

Today I emptied one file drawer full of stuff and refiled most of it into another drawer. Basically I'm trying to empty out and consolidate my piles of papers into one organized space. I use to be organized. Well, sort of. I'm a great organizer actually. I buy file folders, sticky labels, plastic boxes then go about the business of putting things in order. My problem is there is always another pile waiting somewhere else that I can literally walk past 25 times a day and not even notice it. If I buy into to H.G. Chissell's line of thinking, I must be a walking-talking quivering mass of fear. Well, yeh! You could say that!

Seriously, I know my home is upside down right now because I'm trying to purge it of my parent's stuff, put a fresh coat of paint on every wall, and whittle down my own clutter. Not to mention the way grief can just kind of suck the energy right out of you even if you're in the middle of something you want to be doing. But there is also the very real truth that I'm at a crossroads in my life. I need to begin exploring, for the very first time in my 59 years of living, what it is I want to do with myself. Why is that so hard? So scary? I don't know but it is. So even when I see the clutter for what it is, it's easier to look in the other direction and tell myself I'll get to it tomorrow. And the flip side of that is that it's easier to stick my head in the dirty oven than deal with the piles of papers (Dad's bank statements, stories I've written, letters I should have written right after Dad died) which, when I stop to look at them will conjure up all kinds of fear that I don't really want to deal with right now.

Long story short...I want to purge my house and my heart of the things that get in my way of growing into my potential. So why don't I just do it?

Wishing for you a fairy godmother with a magic de-clutter wand,
Merry ME

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nina May

Like the days in the life of a new born, mourning is often characterized by a year of firsts.

First hour after the world changed.
First night alone.
First meal without someone else "suggesting" how you could do it just a little better.
First load of laundry sans the deceased two-pocketed long-sleeved shirts.
First trip to the grocery store.
First trip past the Longhorn without ordering a Flo's filet.
First time making scrambled eggs the way you like them, not to please someone else's idea of delicious.
First time making it through a church service without bawling.
First time you don't feel the need to shout at an innocent phone solicitor who is simply doing his job that your father is dead and you will no longer be supporting the Republican Party or the NRA even if he was a lifetime member.
First birthday, anniversary, holiday without the beloved person.

Sweetie took me to the cemetery today. Tears streamed down my face as I ran my fingers across Dad's name and the dates of his life carved in the marble stone. Oh how I wish I could hold his hand again.

We had a small birthday celebration tonight in Dad's honor at his favorite steak place. It was nice being with people I love who know how I'm feeling.

There is still much to do to get this house back in some kind of order. Days go by and life goes one. My heart still hurts. But maybe it's beginning to heal.

Happy Birthday, Dad,
Merry ME

A Day Late

Note from ME: As you might be able to tell, I started this yesterday but never finished. Perhaps that will be the story of my life.

Mama & ME

Mother's Day was overshadowed this year by the fact that it fell on the eve of what would have been my father's 94th birthday. I've been pretty busy missing him, feeling sorry for myself, and wondering how I'll get through a day that if he were here he'd be saying he's old and what's the point in celebrating but waiting with barely disguised anticipation for a stack of presents and a German Chocolate cake covered in candles. Imagine, that, me feeling sorry for myself.

No mother to honor. No father for the Birthday Fairy to harass. Boohoo.

But wait. I'm a mother. Shouldn't I honor ME? And what about my sisters who all have children and some have grandchildren? Grandmother's are mothers who deserve a double dose of honoring. And what about all those other mothers out there? Tall ones, short ones, happy ones, sad ones, young ones and old ones. If babies are God's way of saying the world should go on, Mother's are the perfect people to do the job. I'm pretty sure God knew that when he was putting things together but I gotta say, (S)He rocked this one! So, even though my mother is no longer here in person to honor, that doesn't stop me from giving a big shout out to all you mothers out there.

A couple in particular:
Linda: Halfway through the church service today when I should have been paying attention to the preacher I realized that my sister Linda is now the matriarch of our family. Personally I don't think there is anyone better for the job. Linda is a great mother, perfect grandmother, auntie beyond compare and a terrific sister. She never forgets a birthday, cheers on one and all no matter the event, rescues dogs, communes with cats, and makes quilts. She is brave and kind and generous. She has never ever let me down which I wish I could say is true in reverse. She is the keeper of our families photographs, genealogy, stories and recipes. She is the big sister every girl should have. Thanks, Linda, for all you do to lift me up and make me smile.

Molly Jo: If you've ever been a mother you know just how hard the job can be. There's no way of knowing before hand what motherhood is going to throw at you. When you bring your new baby(s) home from the hospital and the night time hours drag on and you can't sleep even though your eyelids can barely stay open, you begin to wonder how you got yourself into this mess and pray that there is a way out. Multiply that by 3 and you might find yourself in MJ's shoes. One thing I know for sure is that those babies are going to grow up way faster than she notices and just when she thinks she can't take changing one more diaper, her little ones are going to be teenagers wanting to borrow the car keys and pierce their respective eyebrows. It's hard, real hard, when you're in the trenches to remember to stop to inhale the smell of Johnson's baby lotion and think this is what life is all about. MJ, in between moments of frenzy, bouts of despair, and fits of laughter, I wish you moments the perfect peace that comes from knowing you are blessed.

Leila: Raising babies is a cakewalk compared to wild roller coaster ride of living with a teenager. You don't know when to wrap your teen in bubble wrap and let her out the door into the world or when to throw her to the ground, wrap rope around her feet and sit on her like you've just lasso-ed a calf. Leila has been thrown some real curve balls in the last five months. I feel sure she's cried more tears than she thought she had in her. But I think when she looks back at this time, she's going to be able to see the diamond in the rough. Her first born, that precious baby girl, who might look now like Linda Blair in the Exorcist spitting out green vomit as her head spins around, is still in there. It might take the strength of Wonder Woman, the negotiating power of Madeline Albright, the compassion of Mtr. Theresa, the hope of Anne Frank and the wisdom of Sandra Day O'Connor, but I think Leila is all that and more. We're all holding our collective breaths praying for the moment your granddaughter pukes and poos on her mom and she looks at you with love in her eyes and says, "Now I get it!"
Aunt Letty: The next best thing to having my mother here on earth with me. I love knowing she's at the other end of my computer, a silent witness to all I strive to be. Love you Lett.

Happy Mother's Day, one and all,
Merry ME

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 6, 2011 National Bubble Day

"When Life Gives you Soap,
Make Bubbles."
The Bubble Fairy

Several years ago, as editor of her school's yearbook, my daughter, Weneki, spent a week away from home studying the ins and outs of great yearbook making. I'm sure she learned a lot of things that served her well that year. The thing I remember most, however, is the advice she came home with. Blow bubbles, they told her, when deadlines roll around and the work isn't done, or the stress of Calculus's finals coincides with copy editing. There is something so very soothing about blowing iridescent bubbles from a 4 inch plastic stick. I wonder if it's the bubbles themselves or the place and time they magically transport bone weary adults to. That place of childhood where cares float away on bubbly air and where, with sticky, soapy fingers the world's only challenge is catching a freshly made bubble without it popping.

Perhaps I don't do it as often as I should, but bubble blowing is still a favorite past time. I'm not much into giant plastic bubbles. Instead of one big bubble, I prefer to dip a well-made wand into a good sudsy solution then like the sun in the center of the universe spin in circles to release hundreds of glistening bubbles. Some burst before even leaving the wand. Some drop to the ground with no lift at all. Still others ride away on a current of air as if on the back of an unseen unicorn.

"A bubble is a vessel of love, a way to bridge the gap between people."

My friend Pam wrote a blog recently about blowing bubbles with her granddaughters. It put me in the mood to find bubble wands with a little more pizzazz than the standard plastic. That led me on a treasure hunt that landed me at the doorstep of the Bubble Fairy, aka Viscosity Fermentia Stumblebell. Scoff if you will, but I believe in magic and I believe in fairies. Check out her website and see if you don't succumb to the desire to kick of your shoes, and run in the grass with a trail of bubbles flying behind you like bees chasing Pooh.

When life gives you soap, advises the BF, make bubbles. Is there any greater advice one can receive in life? Well maybe, don't put your soapy fingers in your mouth, but that might just be one of the lessons you have to learn by doing.

According to the BF, tomorrow, May 6th is National Bubble Day. I don't know about you, but I had no idea there was a holiday of this magnitude. And if you Google Bubble, you'll find there are also days set aside for Bubble Baths and Bubble Wrap - two delightful things also on my list of pleasures.

The BF says that National Bubble Day happens to fall on her mother's 86th birthday. Again, I doubt there is much coincidence in that. I also feel it is good that it comes on the heels of Cinco de Maya when at the strike of happy hour, even those who have never stepped foot across the Rio Grande begin speaking with a really bad Spanish accent, calling for una mas Cervesa, singing about their relationship with Jose Cuervo, and eating way more Guacamole and chips than a body is meant to hold. What better way to ease the pain of too much celebracion than getting some fresh air and blowing bubbles? I think the BF might just be on to something.

I'm beginning to grow concerned about the nagging questions I have about my future. Motherhood? Been there done that.
Caregiver? Not sure I'm up to the challenge right now.
Writer? Hahahahahahah! I'd better find a day job or learn to live without food.
Butcher? Baker? Candlestickmaker? Not really qualified.
Bubble Fairy? You know it has a nice ring to it. How much education or experience can it take to go around blowing bubbles and making people smile? While I'm waiting for my wings to grow in, I can dust off the wings I found on the expressway a few years ago. Like me, they are a little worse for wear, but still have some magic left in them.

Last week when I read Pam's story about bubbles I didn't even know there was such a thing as a bubble fairy. Now I think I want to hitch up my wings, pack up some bubble solution and hit the high road to adventure. Sweetie has been having visions of motorhomes in his sleep for years. I bet he'd join me if I didn't make him wear a tutu and pointy toed shoes. We could paint our carriage in neon colors and plaster it with "Make Bubbles, Not War" placards. Maybe we could even hook up a bubble wand to the wagging end of Suzi's tail and like the pied piper we'd a trail of children following her bubbles wherever we went. I'm liking this idea and thanking the fairies for steering me in this direction.

If you are celebrating today, may all your salsa be mild.
And if you're celebrating tomorrow, may your troubles be few and your bubbles be many.

Merry ME

P.S. I encourage you to visit the BF's website: bubblefairy.com.
Tell her Merry ME sent you. And if you live in California or near the Renaissance Faire circuit look her her in person.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's a Girl!

"Grandchildren are the dots that connect
the lines from generation to generation."
Lois Wyse

Meet my great-granddaughter.

May your world be filled with the magic of children,
Merry ME

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just Thinking

I should have stayed up after letting the dog out. But the sun was still snoozing, so I hopped back into bed. A couple hours later I awoke feeling drugged and scared. I'd had a bad dream (you know it's bad when the serial killer you've been trying to ditch is moving in next door to care for the woman who lives there and nobody but you knows he's a killer. Yikes!) that even a hot shower couldn't wash away. I should have leashed up Miss Suz and gone for a walk. I thought I'd read just one email and a few blogs then be on my way.

Of course the first thing I saw when my computer booted up was the scary face of America's Most Wanted who isn't wanted anymore. I breathe a sigh of relief that there is one less evil person in this world. I suspect there will be lots of news coverage of "civilized" Americans dancing in the streets. Somehow I can't bring myself to rejoice. All I can think of is that there is one more mother, or wife, or child who will be crying as they lay their head on a pillow tonight. Does that make me unAmerican? Does that make me less proud of the men and women who have died fighting a "war on terror" this man devised? I hope not. I hope it makes me more compassionate. Does bin Laden deserve my compassion? Hmmmm, I ask myself. Probably not. But if you pick and choose who you share your compassion with can you really call it compassion? I'm glad the long search is over. I'm glad there can (hopefully) be some kind of closure for those hit hardest by the man's scheming. But my heart needs to be able to forgive in order not to turn as rock hard and cold as the one just killed. I said forgive - not FORGET. And with the forgiving I put the judgement back in the hands of the Divine where it belongs.

Then I moved on to Pam's Blog where pink dogwood blossoms lightened my heart a little. May 2, 1892, was the day my grandmother was born into a family that already had 11 children. Her mom died when my Grandmother was little so she was raised in rural Tennessee by a host of countrified relatives. What seems like a miracle to me is that she grew into a strong, loving, educated woman. Her husband died early on in their marriage leaving Grandmother with two small boys to raise. Again, the relatives pitched in to see that the young ones were cared for when their mother needed help. She taught third grade in Newport TN Grammar School for 33 years, served in several capacities at her beloved Methodist church, was honored as Woman of the Year, and never remarried. She was one of the people my daddy spoke to as he neared the end of his life. As I said in a previous post, my Grandmother loved the Creator's gifts of nature. Red birds and dogwoods stand out in my memory as her favorites. The blood of a god-fearing, apple-pie sweet lady runs in my veins. Today I think of her and give thanks.

I began to ponder how images of Osama bib Laden and my Grandmother could run through my mind on parallel tracks, like a cartoon where the angel sits on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Could there possible be a connection? And if so, what could it be?

Perhaps the answer can be found over at AkasaWolfsong's blog. There is a hauntingly beautiful video I encourage you to go look at. The words are a prayer of sorts, called "The Word that is One."

In the beginning was the word
One Word, that gave rise to all things.
The Word was Truth...

I believe that in the beginning the Divine One blew a spark of life into each of us. Regardless of how we choose to kindle that flame - for good or for evil, it is there in our soul. It's easy to see the gift in a dogwood blossom, a baby's tiny footprint, or a grandmother's smile. Much harder to grasp when your teenager has just pierced his eyebrow, your mate has cheated on you or a lunatic with a gun has gone on a rampage. I'm not saying evil doesn't exist. But for me, evil is man-made; it does not come from the Creator. Somewhere, deep down inside us lies the smouldering spark of forgiveness that could, if given half a chance, give rise to a world at peace.

Easier preached than done? You betcha?

But how else can you explain the faces of love and hate that greeted me this morning?

Just thinking,
Merry ME