Passing By A Window

Have you ever had one of those moments when you pass by a window and catch a glimpse of your reflection without recognizing yourself – albeit briefly? Please nod your head affirmatively, or I’m going to seriously wonder if my crazy level just escalated.

Is there any greater dissonance than not recognizing who you are? Who you have become? Accepting that none of us perceive ourselves as we are perceived by others, at least our self-perception should align with what we see. And I have to admit, that there are moments when they just don’t line up.

When my head insists that I can rock an outfit which a) I clearly can’t and b) is arguably no longer in style; when I sit in meetings where people moan about millenials and I wonder why they’ve skipped two generations in the dialogue (including my own – hello???); when I dance around my house (full disclosure – only the dogs witness this activity) and find myself hoping the next song is a slow one.

The moments when I realize that my children are now men. Awesome men. No longer in need of that overpowering, all encompassing love that arrived in utero. In my head I am still able to carry them on my hips, pudgy fingers around my neck, little boy sweat and kisses that smacked. And always sensing that if I hold on too hard they will have to wrest themselves from me painfully. I tried to keep my grasp loose-ish. Do they even have these reflections in their mirrors? Perhaps somewhere. Certainly not something they consider when defining themselves at this point in their lives. Nor should they. It isn’t time.

Am I the woman in the little black dress meeting Andy for the first time 23 years ago this week? That curiosity and humor and hint of possibility filling the Georgetown harbor with something unrecognizable yet familiar? I could probably fit into the dress (there was some lycra involved I’m sure), but would I recognize the woman? Sometimes, perhaps…when we dance in the kitchen to a song of Andy’s creation (don’t ask).

So many passages that define this reflection, so many exhilarating moments and sad lessons, an awful lot of pain and kindnesses of indescribable magnitude. To look in the mirror and see that I’m still evolving, the image isn’t static even though there’s something to be said for thinking one is frozen in time. The reflection is the reality – no longer eligible for the ingenue roles, juggling mom, menopausal manic, or driven senior executive. Now? Good question.

The reflection is still blurry, morphing into something gentler, arguably a little easier on the image staring back. Perhaps a little less intrepid and sensing something that haunts my thoughts in ways that are unfamiliar – the limits of time maybe?

The eyes though – the eyes I recognize – they crinkle from laughter, they well too easily, they look to the sky with such gratitude. Sometimes I don’t recognize the face in toto – I just recognize the heart. And sometimes that’s enough.
Photo on 5-25-14 at 5.33 PM

Pick A Card, Any Card…

I always wonder how magicians do it.  Being quite naive and slow to track a sleight of hand, I’m one of those excellent candidates that others shake their heads at, wondering how I could have missed it.  I miss it every time.  So when in the audience, I never volunteer.  I’m too easy.  Andy figures out all of these tricks – it’s part of that male mystique of his that requires the provision of an acceptable answer.

Lately I feel like I’m the one trying to figure out the scheme.  And as usual, I’m not exactly blinding anyone with my brilliance.  Rather, I’m letting each moment happen and have surrendered to the limits of my intellect.

In the past few weeks, there has been a health scare with my son (he’s totally fine – but if you think I could string two coherent words together at the time, you’d be giving me way too much credit).  I stayed awake – certain that if my vigilance failed for a moment, something awful might happen.  I’m not sure I was breathing, yet I must have been, ’cause I’m writing to you now.  As soon as I heard he was ok I saw myself as a puddle on the floor.  No longer with any form or substantive thought.  It doesn’t matter whether or not he understood my reaction for it wasn’t/isn’t about me – he’s the child (even though he’s an adult), I’m the mom.

One of my sons completed his MBA.  This is his second Master’s degree – both completed while working full-time at one of the most unforgiving consulting companies when it comes to time and billing (let me take that back – all professional service firms are unforgiving when it comes to time and billing).  Yes, I whooped when they called his name (but at his request, I didn’t yell “Go baby!”).  These men o’ mine are no longer men o’ mine – they are husbands first.  And I wanted my mama lion role back (with no disrespect to either one of my lovely daughters-in-law), mourned the loss of the role I know well.  Chuffing at the opening of my lair…

Andy’s parents are moving to CA to be closer to their daughter and her family.  The weather will be kinder. the opportunities greater for my father-in-law to golf, my mother-in-law to get involved in some activities.  Andy’s up there helping them get organized until he makes it home today.  We’ll go back up together on Wednesday.  I’ve been here before; there’s nothing about it that’s easy.

My cherished friend going through the ebbs and flows of possible transitions – not knowing from one moment to the next whether she’s going-along-to-get-along or passionately caring about the life choices ahead.

So I wake each day with a hint of worry attached to my coffee cup.  My shoulders a bit more bent.  Roles change all the time, relationships morph because that’s what relationships do.  The earth always moving beneath our feet and relying on our sense of balance to remain upright.

And yet…I am acutely aware that everything is ok.  I caught two blue jays yakking it up yesterday afternoon (wow are they loud).  The early morning stars shone with such clarity I wept at their beauty.  I gratefully accept the morning’s invitation.  Somewhere inside I am as full and fortunate as any one person can be.

I am going to take a page from some of my fellow bloggers and take a bit of a hiatus.  It’s not good-bye of course, just some time to fiddle with the idea of blogging, maybe change the paint on the karma truck, rotate the tires, shift gears so to speak.  It’s time – we’ve been on this road together for a long time and rather than lose the company, I’d prefer to pull over and park this baby for awhile.  Get outside, renew, re-think, restore.

And maybe, just maybe when I get back, I’ll be able to tell you just how the magicians do it.  See you soon.  Much love…m

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It’s All About The Plot

“Become major…Live like a hero.  That’s what the classics teach us.  Be a main character.  Otherwise what is life for?” — J.M. Coetzee

I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately.  My friends who are encountering detours and re-routes that they hadn’t anticipated.  Bumps that feel like moguls on one of the Olympic ski runs.  The kinds of change that can leave your posture skewed and your jaw clenched to the point of pain.  Jo told me that she thought transitions were easier when we were younger.  Perhaps.  Perhaps we just weren’t aware of what part of our story we were in the middle of – innocence is a wonderful thing.  But when you get a bit older, when the time comes that you realize that this is in fact the story line in which you are the focal character, perspective changes a bit.  We spend so much of our life planning our next chapters – even when they don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

As a child, I remember feeling that I just couldn’t wait for life to start – I couldn’t wait to be able to ride with the experienced riders; couldn’t wait to be double digits.  As a newly-minted teen, I couldn’t wait until I could wear Yardley’s cake eyeliner.  Then I couldn’t wait until I was legal.  Anticipation in my twenties – to be a mom, be seen as an adult (and be forgiven for transgressions that were a result of not knowing what I was doing as an adult), have my own home.  The thirties brought confirmation that though I no longer had the excuse of being a novice grown-up, I had fertile years to dig into this life I was creating without boundaries or barriers.  Perhaps in my forties it began to wear a little thin, but not so much so that my mind was reluctant to keep moving ahead, anticipating next steps with energy and spirit.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that looking forward no longer held the same thrill.  And despite the gratitude (which accompanies most things for me), there lingers questions about legacy and lasting impressions, an awareness that looking forward diminishes the present and quite frankly, too much future-thinking just makes me anxious.  I can write a chapter, but I’m not prepared for the story to end.

And perhaps that is why these transitions get so damn tricky.  Our emotional muscles aren’t as supple; we have seen enough to hesitate – able now to determine the degree of difficulty associated with our next move.

There is a certain grace in such awareness though.  To be able to be engaged with life and observe it simultaneously.  Moving thoughtfully enough that you don’t miss a cardinal on a snow filled branch or the sound the wind makes right before it blows through your hair.  Arriving at a point where you know what matters more often than not, and staying that course.  Transitions may not get easier as we get older, the choices may change in scope and size, but we are each, still the author.  And I for one, think my story is damn good.

Living In The Bubble

courtesy of flickr.com

courtesy of flickr.com

I’ve decided to live in my awesome bubble today, so if you feel like fomenting trouble, please move along.  I’m occupied with silliness.

It’s been a long time since I woke up feeling the need to be silly.  It started when I took the pups out and saw that the only thing the moon was revealing was a smile.  Which made me smile too.  Bogey began to chuff at … nothing.  His bravery is impressive when there’s nothing to challenge it.  My hero.  It wasn’t one of those banner sleep nights, so you can toss this up to that slightly frantic goofiness caused by too much caffeine over too short a period of time.  No matter – I’m in the bubble.  At least until I crawl back into bed.

“Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life” — Omar Khayyam

Smart guy, that Omar.  He got me thinking.  For reasons one could ascribe to astrology, biorhythms, synchronized moments in time, etc – some of my friends are struggling at the moment.  Feeling overwhelmed, too lonely, disappointed, histories that they want to get over yet keep repeating, selective memory retrieval that prohibits touching grace.

Join me in here for a minute.  Seriously.  I am thinking that it’s never too late to create the relationships you always wanted; the ones that hint at why you’re dissatisfied with the ones that you currently have.  What is the unrealized fantasy that pulls on your shirt sleeve as you struggle to move forward?  What does it look like?  Create it.  Live it.  Remember the kid that lives inside us all is waiting for you to rectify history.  Fix it.  Be the parent that you didn’t have.  Speak to yourself as if you were speaking to your most loved friend.  Get silly, get loving, get over these hurdles that others may have put there, but you have allowed to remain.  Risk being happy.  No one will hold you accountable for that state of mind every moment of every day.  The onus isn’t as great as the weight of being an indifferent bystander in your own life.

My intent is not to make any of this sound easy or trite.  My intent is to dilute the ‘buts’ and ‘can’t work’ to a manageable trickle instead of a waterfall.  To engage the muscles that stretch most when moving in joy.  To help you find your ‘tickle’ spot and wake it up.  And if all of this is just too much for a Sunday morning – I hope at least that you smile, that you savor one moment in your morning.  Catch yourself grinning.

I Want To Be A Cowgirl

“I want to be a cowboy, but only long enough to barge into a saloon and bellow ‘Where’s the yellow belly that stole my happy trail?’” — Jared Kintz

courtesy of wikipedia

courtesy of wikipedia

I used to occasionally catch a western with my dad (typically while he was changing channels and got hooked by something John Wayne or Lee Marvin or Clint Eastwood was doing).  My love of horses made it impossible to watch any of the scenes which intimated that they were uncomfortable or angry in anyway.  But galloping through an open field?  I’d watch and put myself in that saddle.  Slamming one’s body into the swinging door of a bar and with one look rendering a crowded room silent?  Oh yeah.   There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is Mimi (ok, I have to change that).

I also wanted to be the next Barbra Streisand, but that’s a story for another day.

And come up with the formula for world peace – I’m still working on that one.

“Where’s the yellow belly who stole my happy trail?”  How awesome it would be if one could point a gloved finger at that varmint.

You know where I’m going with this – who would you point your finger at?  Ain’t no one there, darn it, unless one is looking in the mirror.

We steal our happiness all the time.  That interlude between moments that is so easily sabotaged by our confusion or displeasure, asserting that we are the victims of circumstance, a person, a poor choice.  The thought that I am that yellow belly is anathema to me.  And yet.  Once again the duality of our humanity makes itself known.  We are both fearless and petrified;  hell-bent and heaven seeking.  Bartender, just leave me the bottle.

The older I get, the more I realize that this is the town I rode into.  The trail is far more littered with wildflowers than dead bodies (figuratively speaking – I am a cowboy without a gun).  I have undermined my sense of self-worth far more than anybody else, the amount I have gambled reflects my own fear and ambivalence, my delights have been incredible, my pain has been fierce.  And they’ve all been mine.

Every cowtown I’ve ever lived in has offered food, shelter, employment, sunshine.  So I’ve had the ridiculous luxury of feeling lousy over things that are dreams for many in this world.  So why would I self-sabotage my happy trail?  Because sometimes it’s the easier choice.  Sometimes, it’s far easier to think “yeah, but…”.  The problem of course is that there is no happy ending with that script.  One rides off into a barren field, head down – defeated by one’s self.  And that just isn’t the way any movie should end.

So I get up on my horse, settle my butt into a well-worn saddle and look at the horizon with a delicious sense of the possible.   I nicker to my horse and we ride..while I sing “People”.  Must be the reason why I never made it in show business.