The Story Teller

20170919_230223573_iOSSometimes as I read back over my words, I amazed that they came from the depths of my mind.  Did I really write that I muse.  I try to think back to my former self that had those particular thoughts on that particular day and remember. What was I feeling? What else happened? What circumstances led me to write those exact words? If I’d written them at another time on a another day would they have been different?  As I look at an old blog post, or journal entry or some odd story I wrote, I am reminded of how human I am and how far I’ve come.  My journey has taken many twists and turns yet my words still remain true to me.  The same themes thread their way through my life connecting them together and giving me a voice that the shy little girl within me would have a hard time speaking aloud. I have changed and grown but I am still the same. I am me uncompromised.

I watch my daughters as they are becoming young women. I am filled with pride and hope and love. They are finding their own voices each in their unique ways. A smile comes to my lips when I find the little stories and essays they have written. The letters and notes I find. They too have a love of expressing themselves in words and creating a story from their imaginations. Of all the quirks and neuroses I have passes on to these two this is the one that I am grateful to have inspired in them.

20170919_225524589_iOSA few months ago my fifth-grade daughter and I were down in the dredges of our basement, trying to organize our “craft” room. She came upon a tote in the back corner labeled “writing and stuff” and pried off the lid. (Yes, we were supposed to be putting stuff away.)  Here eyes got wide and she became so excited as she found a pile of old and I mean OLD stories that I had penned back in the day. She took them upstairs and made me read them all to her.  I laughed as she did she as we landed upon her favorite, “Pedro the Great.”  Ahhh good old Pedro the Great was inspired by my childhood dog  chihuahua named, of course, Pedro. In my little tale, Pedro is a diso dancing super hero. I illustrated it myself (as you can see in the picture above.)  I explained to her that I was the exact same age that she is now when I wrote that story – fifth grade. I told her we didn’t have computers (way back then in the old days) and had to use a typewriter (what’s that?”) and used markers to draw the pics. She was even more impressed when I told her that my teacher read it to our class. I have no recollection of how that came to happen – I think I must have asked her to read it and she humored me. I was proud of my story though and she encouraged me to write.

20170919_222745525_iOSI hadn’t given much thought to Pedro since that evening until I came home from work a couple of days ago tired and ready to veg. Usually when I come home the girls are watching TV or doing homework or playing outside, but on this particular day, she ran into the garage to meet me.  In her hands was her very own story, “Maggie the Magnificent.”  MTM is also a super hero dog named after our Jack Russell mix, who I’m not sure I would describe as magnficent (based on the growing pile of chewed up bras, undies, pens, shoes and Barbies in her wake or the number of times a week she wakes me up a 3 AM to pee), none-the-less, my daugher’s version of MTM is larger than life. My daugher was so proud of her story and I could see my ten-year old self in her. I loved her story.  She wants to get it published now and I encourage her to follow her dream. Her fifth grade ambitions are much higher than mine.  She’s working on the sequel now as she doesn’t want our other dog, Ollie, to feel left out. I agreed, he should get his story too. And, I can’t wait to read it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Small Steps

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Someday…

I once worked with a woman that moved across the country all by herself to live in a town where she knew no one. My cousin travelled Europe for a year all by himself.  I envy them both.

I remember in college going to a basketball game by myself once.  All my friends (yes I actually had friends and still do) were busy, but being a diehard fan I was determined I wouldn’t let that fact keep me from going. I distinctly remember sitting in the stands with thousands of cheering people around me and feeling more alone than ever. I thought how ironic (I think that is the right word but Alannis would know better) it was to feel so alone when I was surrounded by so many people.

It’s a feeling I’ve since tried to avoid.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy travelling or eating out – it’s the alone part I don’t like. I like to have someone to go with me. I’m one of those that takes two friends to the bathroom with me. When I’m travelling on my own for business, I typically eat room service or take out. For me the idea of walking into a restaraunt and sitting alone to enjoy a meal terrifies me.  I’m breaking into a cold sweat just thinking about it!

I’m not sure what it is about it that makes me so uneasy. When I think about it, staying home to avoid being seen alone doesn’t make much sense. If I’m at home alone does it mean I’m not really alone? (Is that akin to if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?) Sure I enjoy watching Netflix in my PJs, but I also like taking photos at the metropark, listening to live music and being served a delicious meal. I’ve missed out on so much in the past by limiting myself to only going places when I had someone to go with me.

In the past couple of years, I’ve spent more and more time sitting in the stands or in the audience alone, watching my kids play sports and perform. I wouldn’t miss those moments for anything. Not once has anyone stared at me or called me a loser for not having someone to sit with me.  And even if they were, I have my trusty smart phone to protect me and distract me. I know I shouldn’t use it as a crutch to hide my shyness. If I put the phone down and looked more approachable or open maybe I’d meet Mr. Right (see my previous post) at one of these functions. LOL

So…is the solution to make more friends or step out and enjoy my own company? Maybe a little of both I’m thinking. Today, though, I’m proud to write that I took one step toward embracing my “singleness.”  I went to a movie at the theater by myself, bought a popcorn and a diet pop, sat back and enjoyed watching Ryan Reynolds on the big screen for two hours. The world didn’t come to end. I laughed and had a good time.  I know it is a small step, but for me it still felt pretty good. Next week maybe I’ll wine and dine myself. We’ll see…unless maybe you’d like to go with me?

What do you do when you can’t find a pal to go out with? Skip it or head out anyway?

 

Does Happily Ever After Even Exist?

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Just call me the “Crazy Dog Lady” in training
Ahhh the fairytale romance……

And they lived happily ever after.
The End.

These magic words have always made me feel warm inside. True love conquers all.  The happy ending. Oh, how I loved the happy ending. As a consumer of chick flicks and trashy romance novels galore (and author of the same), I’ve always been drawn to the fantasy of that perfect love and the happily ever after. I subscribe to the notion of why pay to watch a sad ending or invest my time in reading a novel that ends in despair. There is enough of that in real life. I want to escape into a feel-good world. The idea that somewhere in the universe that perfect love exists gives me hope. However, the realist in me knows real life is much harder than that. Relationships take work. People change. Humans are imperfect. Life is NOT a romance novel.  Fiction is not fact. I get that. I really do. So, that’s why I’m embarrassed to write that deep down I secretly hoped it could be real. Now that I find myself a single woman, I dreamt  the love story could be mine. It’s exciting to think somewhere out there my soulmate is looking for me and swoon, we’d fall in love and it wouldn’t be hard.  If only….
Navigating the dating world, let alone actually finding someone compatible, and nurturing that relationship beyond the initial butterflies is not easy. As a single mother with a full-time job in a middle-aged body, I know this beyond a doubt – more than ever before. I’ve tried online dating, but that is a part-time job in and of itself. Crafting the perfect profile that’s intriguing, but still true to me, finding the photos that make me look young and fun, writing  flirty messages and going on disappointing first dates. I can see that he viewed my profile, but he never responded to my message. What’s wrong with me? He’s online, but takes 10 minutes to give me a two-word response. Swipe left or right?  Should I initiate a text or wait for him to text me? Should I offer to pay or let him? It goes on and on ad nauseum.

Dating should be fun right? Instead I find I makes me feel worse than being on my own.  Online dating especially makes me feel “less than” when I know I am “more than” enough. I’m naturally a glass-half full person that finds the silver lining in a situation. I’m trusting and try to see the best in people. But online dating has left me feeling jaded and disenchanted. Do I really need to know my profile is “not popular?” or that the guy I messaged didn’t find me attractive enough to respond to me? Did I say the wrong thing? Was I too aggressive or too passive? On the flip side, it doesn’t make me feel good to ignore messages or swipe left or tell a perfectly nice man that I like him but don’t want to date him?  I feel cheap messaging multiple men at the same time, not to mention going on dates with more than one person. I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it. And that’s just a cup of coffee… Then there’s sex.  On the first date? After three dates? When I’m in love? Isn’t there some in between? My intellect says it’s okay for two consenting adults  to connect physically, but my overthinking mind and fragile heart holds me back.  I want to be that laid back woman, but in the end I’m that uptight girl.

I vacillate between wanting to find that special someone, a companion to share my life with and giving up on that fantasy all together. I don’t want to rush into a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. My friends tell me God will put the right man in my path when the time is right, when I least expect it.  Could he wear a sign around his neck so I know? I don’t want to be like the man on top of his roof as the flood waters rise. He turns away the boat and the helicopter that God sends to rescue him and dies in the flood wondering why God didn’t save him.  If God sends a boat my way, I want to jump in.  On the other hand, maybe I’m destined to be a crazy dog lady (I hate cats so I can’t be a crazy cat lady).  In the end, I am confident that I am happier in my “aloneness” than I ever was or could be in the wrong relationship. But still that “what if….” whispers in my ear. Take a risk. Be vulnerable. Life’s a journey…

780 words later I’m no closer to an answer.

Can anyone else relate?

 

Home of the Brave?

flag-dayFear. Four letters. Fear doesn’t look so scary as word on a page. Manifested in real-life though fear can be very scary indeed. Fear can drive us and paralyze us. Fight or flight, fear causes that adrenaline rush to run away or fight the peril or freeze into a state of doing nothing. Fear shuts out love and amplifies hate. Fear manipulates and controls us. Fear urges me to say “yes” when I really should say “no.” It causes me to say “no” when what I really want to say is “yes.”  It causes me to doubt and second guess. It inhibits me and holds me back.  What do I fear? Being judged by others as not good enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Kind enough? Not having enough? Loneliness? Emptiness? Not being able to provide for mybchildren? Spiders and snakes?  All. Of. The. Above.  But why?

I don’t consider myself to be a religious zealot or a political fanatic. I don’t align as a pure conservative or pure liberal. On a dating profile (yet another interesting topic, but I digress), I once listed myself as a “free thinker” and I think that is apt. Typically I stay away from topics of politics and religion as conflict is not my comfort zone. However, after reading this article, “Love Thy Neighbor,” I found I could not remain silent. The words and thoughts on this subject won’t let me rest. The keep playing over and over in my head, compelling me to release them and send them out into the cyber world. So here they are, these words and ideas that are mine, but are not me. As I am no more my hand or my foot or my face than I am my thoughts and words or opinions. This is my opinion. And so, I let go of that fear and write.

When I hear or read the words, “America First” or “Make America Great Again” I feel ill. My stomach turns and I feel sad.  When hasn’t America been first? Do we as Americans really need to be afraid of being second? Seriously. When hasn’t America been great?  Isn’t it the reason why people from other countries want to come here? To follow the American dream? Who would want to come to a place that isn’t great? I am a truly blessed woman.  I was lucky enough to be born in the United States of America to two caring parents that took me to church on Sundays and provided a loving home for me. I graduated from high school. I went to college. I have food on my table. I have a roof over my head. I have a car that I drive to work every morning. If I get sick, I call the doctor. I have a wonderful family and good friends. The only way I could have been luckier would have been if I’d been born with a penis. That’s reality. My reality. Not everyone is so lucky. I know this. I could just as easily of been born in Syria or Cambodia or North Korea.

Fear has led America to put a man in power who is probably even more fearful than I. (Why else would he lash out at those who disagree with him on such a personal level.  He wants everyone to like him. Who doesn’t want that?) What do Americans fear?  Losing their rights? The right to own a gun? The right to freedom of speech? The right to have more? When I hear the excuse “lessor of two evils” for why people voted for him, I feel angry. Would you want “Crooked Hillary” in the White House instead? No I would not, nor did I vote for her either. If every American who voted for Trump or Clinton that uttered the words “lessor of two evils” as the reason for their vote had instead voted for a third-party candidate maybe we would have someone in the White House my children could look up to. How did the DNC and RNC vet the candidates they put before us in primaries?

I remember sitting in history class growing up learning about American History. I learned about the lynchings of Black Americans in the 60’s, the Red Scare in the 50’s, the Japanese American internment camps during War World War II.  My professor talking about how people were afraid and it led to hysteria. I can vividly remember feeling ashamed I was an American and so grateful I was born during a time when that couldn’t happen again.  I mean we learned our lessons, right? Yet, as I read hateful diatribes between friends on “fake news” and “sore losers,” I find myself questioning whether or not history is yet again repeating itself. Trump has used fear to make Americans distrust their neighbor that doesn’t look like them or practice the same religion we do. We are afraid of terrorists? Of people stealing our jobs? Of not getting our fair share?  Yes, yes and yes. Me too. I get it.  But I don’t like it.

Trump uses fear to isolate our nation by building walls and shutting our borders. Why can’t our vetting process for letting refugees and people from countries not as great as ours into the U.S. be reviewed and improved without shutting our borders and instilling hate and fear. From the time, he announced the executive order until the courts finally allowed it, the new processes could have been completed. I worry one day my grandchildren will look at me after reading about this time period in history ask me how this could have happened. What will I say?  I’m sorry, people were afraid of not being first.

America is a mosaic. We need each other. Our differences are what makes us great.  People make us great. Not policies and politics and religion. We need to set aside our fears. I need to set aside my fear. Come on, we are the “Home of the Brave” aren’t we?

More Than ‘Just Words’

blahWhen I first started writing this blog, I named it “Just Words.” In my mind, the ramblings that flowed through my fingers onto my keyboard and appeared as words on a screen, were just a bunch of words.  The blah, blah, blah musings of a middle-aged woman that no one would really care to read (unless maybe they were related to me). Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. I like to think I was wrong on that.

I am a writer. I love words. Words do matter, whether written or spoken. What you and I say or write does mean something. Words can lift me up or bring me down. Once spoken (or in these days texted or emailed or blogged), you can’t take them back. They are out there – good or bad. With our world becoming more and more electronic, where we are hidden behind our “smart” devices, words become even more important. I’m not complaining.  A true introvert, this is where I am most comfortable –  hiding behind my device, sitting in my PJs in the comfort of my home, carefully crafting and recrafting my words, hoping to send forth the meaning I intend. Yet, I know these cyberspace words are void of human context, of human interaction. You can’t see my face or expression to truly know if I am being sarcastic or sincere. You can’t see the sly smile cross my lips to know if I am joking or being hurtful. Nor do you know if my silence or lack of words is because I am busy or forgetful or having a bad day or I am purposefully blowing you off.

As you cannot get inside my head to understand what I truly meant when I typed those words and hit Enter or pressed Send, I cannot get in yours.  This is hard to remember when I read some comment on Facebook that rubs me the wrong way. Many times as I read heated conversations between “friends” and strangers, I notice people are quick to take offense and strike back in hurtful ways. When I find myself tempted to jump into the mix,  I remind myself that life is better when I assume that most people have good intentions. I am happier assuming people did not intend to make me angry or hurt my feelings or question my integrity but that they simply misunderstood my words or I theirs. And even if that is not the case, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. A person’s opinion is not a personal attack on me as an inividual. I don’t have to react to their words or share mine.

My blogging voice has been quiet for a few years. I haven’t felt like sharing my words. Maybe it was because I deemed them as “Just Words,” so who really cares anyway? This epiphany that my thoughts are more than ‘Just Words,” led me to  rename my blog to “Serendipity.” Isn’t that a great word! It just rolls off the tongue. Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” (happenstance – another great word) or a “pleasant surprise.”  Serendipity represents the essense my blog – to share the pleasant surprises my life brings with others and hopefully leave my followers a pleasant surprise as they read my words and relate.

Yes, words are important, but they don’t mean shit if you don’t follow through… But that is a topic for another day.

Tell me what you think in the comments below (I promise not to take offense:)).

Make Over Cure All?

maincureIn a futile attempt to get my pajama-clad body off the couch and take them somewhere, anywhere (because they are soooooo bored), my daughters gave me a make over this past Sunday. My youngest gave me a manicure and a pedicure, while the eldest braided my hair and did my makeup.

Upon completion of operation “let’s go,” my eldest daughter told me, “You look so beautiful Mom! Don’t you want to go out and show off how great you look?” While the little one chimed in, “You look so pretty. Now all you need is clothes!”

I pulled they blanket up around my neck and coughed. “Thanks girls! You did make me feel a little better. But, there’s no way I’m looking remotely attractive right now. Sorry girls. It’s not happening today.”

You see my throat started to feel scratchy Friday night. I downed some OJ, but by Saturday morning swallowing was painful. Sunday morning brought the sniffles, sneezes and watery eyes. So while I may have looked marginally good on the outside on the inside I still felt like total crap. My littlest brought me tissues, cough drops and a glass of water (bless her heart!) and my oldest told me she “hoped I felt better soon.” And I drifted off to a fitful sleep.

The next two days, I “Dayquilled” and chicken-souped my way through work.  Today, while I still have a bit of a stuffy nose and a cough, I feel 100 times better than I did Sunday. I glance down as my rainbow-colored nails tap on the keyboard and smile to myself. (I’ll take it off tomorrow.) Somehow, I think, getting a make over and a little love can make you feel just a bit better no matter how bad you feel inside. So maybe tonight, we’ll go out for a special treat…unless the scratchy throat has moved on to one of them, in which case, I’ll do their nails:)

Mommy Gone Berserk (over a Cheezit)!

cheezitInstead of spending my typical, lazy Sunday afternoon taking a much deserved siesta, I let my 12-year old talk me into a cleaning frenzy (she wants to have a friend over next weekend – read ulterior motive). Me, being, me figured, OK at least I’d get some help with the drudgery and agreed to her plan. She’d start in the kitchen, I’d focus on the living room/dining room, and the little one got stuck with the bathrooms. She plugged in the iPod and the tunes blared through the house as we got down to work.

After about ten minutes, the youngest decided to “help” me instead of working on her designated room (can’t say I blame her there). One corner of our living room is called the “peace” corner. Originally the idea behind said “peace” corner was to give the girls a place to “chill” when they got overwhelmed and needed a “time out.”  Unfortunately, it quickly became the dumping place for all the stray toys that never made it back upstairs to their bedroom. We targeted that area first, sorting stuff into various piles: the Barbie pile, the American Girl Doll pile, the Polly Pockets/Littlest Pet Shops pile, the book pile, the hair stuff pile, the pens/pencils/markers pile, the stuffed animal pile and laundry/shoe pile. As you can tell a lot of stuff fit/crammed into that little corner.

I made painstaking progress as my helper found her “long, lost” something or other and switched to playing instead of helping. I let it go as I could clean a lot faster (and put a bunch of junk in the “trash” pile) without her watchful eyes. My 12-year old was still on a mission to somehow turn our house into one out of Better Homes & Gardens (I applaud her lofty goals). Three hours later, the kitchen gleamed and the living room looked descent (at least we wouldn’t be showcased on Hoarders Buried Alive this week). I’d just finished wiping the sweat off my brow, priding myself on a job well done, when the incident happened. (I shutter even now thinking about it:))

The little one is making her American Girl Doll kick an American Girl Doll-sized soccer ball across the freshly vacuumed carpet. My oldest saunters into the room and informs her little sister that she doesn’t get to have a friend over because she didn’t help clean up. (I know that’s a lot of she’s, but you get the idea.)

“Yes, I did too help!” the youngest screams in her loud, screechy, seven-year-old voice (you know the kind that makes you wish you had ear plugs). She then reaches into the box of Cheezits that sat on the end table (she hadn’t gotten around to putting it away yet) and throws one at her sister. I watch as it sails across the room and lands in the middle the carpet. It was in this moment (the last straw so to speak) that I lost it and am ashamed to say dropped the “F” bomb. My oldest recoiled in horror. The little one just shrugged her shoulders and smiled at me. Can you believe her audacity!?! I let a few more expletives fly and looked directly at my oldest daughter and said, “Yeah, I said a bad word and I’m going to say some more if you two don’t stop fighting and some one doesn’t pick up that blankety-blank Cheezit right now.”

Thank God above, they didn’t argue over who was going to pick it up and the little one bent down and actually picked it up. I don’t really know what she did with it next (I doubt she ate it, though, as she is my germ-a-phobe) as I headed upstairs to lace up my running shoes. Five minutes later I hit the pavement. Forty minutes and four miles later, I felt much better. I apologized to the girls for yelling and swearing. They apologized for fighting and being a tad messy and we forgave each other. Hugs all around and our house is mostly clean.

Next Sunday afternoon, though, I’m definitely taking a nap!