Monday, August 29, 2011

In Pursuit of My Future

We spend our lives crossing off the days on calendars in anticipation (or reluctance) of some future date – so many more days until Friday, so many more days until my next dental exam, so many more days until vacation, etc.

But as our time on earth gets shorter and the days fly from our grasp, we realize how foolish it is to dismiss each precious moment so lightly.

I do not advocate remorse or regret; I am advocating living every day to its fullest.  To entertain remorse is a waste of time and to entertain regret redefines who you are at present.

I embrace my past and I am stingy and hungry for my future – time is of the essence.

Having achieved one career in my lifetime, I look forward to creating a new one.  Since I do not have another forty years to foolishly cross days off my calendar, I have to double time toward my goal.

What helps is that I do not have to start from scratch.  Some of the “credits on my old transcript” transfer onto my new goal.  I have been blessed with a skill, I have a talent that I selfishly want to share with others, and I have the courage (or tenacity) to pursue this endeavor.

The calendar on my desk is not to cross off days but to fill in each day fully, listing all I did that day in pursuit and preparation of what is yet to come.




Monday, August 22, 2011

Born to be Wild, The Baby Years

Tired of being treated less than my sisters, I decided to run away.  I went to bed fully clothed, my hobo bag packed and hiding under my bed.  I lay there until the house sang with soft snores, then I slipped stealth mode out of bed and down the hallway to the front door. A creaky floor board ratted me out and my mother woke up instantly.  She sent me back to bed with a severe scolding.
I was nine.   
My grandmother smoked Lucky Strikes, and my dad “enjoyed” a cigar every once in a while.  Curious about its attraction, I snuck cigarettes and smoked them outside, out of sight from the grownups. Daddy caught me practicing smoke circles one evening and forced me to join him in an after-dinner cigar. He taught me how to prepare it, light it, and how to hold the smoke in my mouth. I never did that again.
I was eleven.
I tossed my long hair around in a wide circle, arms waving, my bare feet stomping out the beat.   A swat on the behind interrupted my tribal dance in mid frenzy. With a horrified look on her face, my mom turned off the record player and ordered me never to do that again.
I was twelve.
I lured my cute neighbor behind his garage and seduced him into giving me a kiss.  It was stale, sloppy, and smoochy, definitely not worth the reprimand Dad administered when he found us in our illicit embrace. He ordered me inside and Dad talked to me about my wild streak, something he and Mom expected from my older brother but not from me, then he doled out my sentence – all for my own good - I could not date until I turned fifteen, and, even then, it would be with my brother along as a chaperone.
 I was thirteen.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Grandmothers Rule

When my mother agreed to marry my father, she had one condition to which he readily agreed. 

One week after they married, my grandmother came to live with them, so from 1947 until her death in 1989, Mama Ene spent the majority of her days with us.  She occasionally took a “vacation” or went to live on her own, but it never lasted very long.

My parents had careers, so my grandmother ran the household. My brothers, sisters, and I had a definite wake up and bed time schedule.  We each were assigned chores and responsibilities. We always showed her our school work and grade cards first, and she made sure we studied or did our homework before our parents came home every day.

After we accomplished our obligations, she shooed us outside to “get some sun,” and on days when the weather was bad, she came up with ideas to encourage our creativity. She was a no nonsense lady, but under her stern exterior, she loved and cared for us. She wasn’t the type to sit and have a tea party with me and my dolls, but she would bustle about in the kitchen and return with Kool Aid and cookies to help in my pretend.

It was only after I moved away from home that I realized how blessed I was to have had three parents in one household.  Now that I am a grandmother, there is not one thing I do that isn’t guided by her hand or her advice.  She leads me through my day from the moment I arise to the moment I lay my head on my pillow at night.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How to Choose a Date in Five Easy Steps

(I figured with three marriages under my belt, I have some expertise, so gather round my children.)
Rule # 1:  Never date a man with better hair or a better chest than you. (Enough said, this needs no further explanation.)
Rule # 2: You can always judge a man by how respectfully and lovingly he treats his mama (better yet, check out how he treats his ex-wife or ex-girlfriends). 
Rule # 3: Date within a ten-year range of your real age (yes, the one on your birth certificate) instead of using the old rule: dividing your age by half and subtracting and adding that number onto your present age. It just doesn’t make sense; the span is too large.
If you’re thirty, the old rule okays dating anyone between 15 – 45 years old.  Besides ending up in jail and on national news, studies have proven that the brain of the middle-aged male and a male teenager function similarly. Do you want a date or to babysit?
It gets even more disparate if you are a 60 year old.  The range then spans 30-90 year olds.  Really?  Come on.

I like my math formula better.  Give or take ten years from your real age and date within that age group.

Rule # 4:  Are you seeing a pattern here?  Start off with expectations.  Make a list.  Decide what you must have in a date partner. Okay, so he isn’t as tall or as handsome as you wanted, but he is kind and attentive; it is not okay when he treats his cat/his car better than he treats (his or your) children.

Rule #5:  On a more serious note, nurture those same traits in yourself that you expect in others – a sense of humor, respectful to others, mature, kind, attentive, etc. In a day and age where everyone considers intimacy a random act, be the one who doesn’t because you have more to offer and you have self-respect. Being “old-fashioned” never goes out of style.  Never settle for less than you are worth.

Now get out there and date.



Monday, August 1, 2011

Write What You Know (And What Would That Be?)

As novice writers, we are often advised to "write about what we know." Sounds like good advice, but what would that be? Who would want to read about our boring, little lives?

Here’s a writing exercise that might help.

Take a sheet of paper (or open to a clean page in your private journal), put your name at the top, and number 1 – 20 down the left side of the sheet. Skip lines, if you want, and use a second sheet.

Then without stopping (this will be difficult the first time you do this), name twenty nouns that describe you. If you need, use noun phrases (the noun is embedded in the phrase itself) to describe yourself.

Don’t worry about the order of these - just come up with twenty nouns that describe you.

Here is an example of my list:

1. Wife/Ex-wife

2. Mother/Step-mother

3. Grandmother

4. Daughter/Sister

5. Mother-in-law

6. Friend

7. Hispanic woman

8. Retired educator

9. Inactive licensed real estate agent

10. Published author of a newspaper personal column

11. Collector of way too many things

12. Boomer  

13. Wannabe fiction writer  

14. Christian

15. Republican

16. Movie buff

17. Child advocate

18. Cook

19. Diva

20. Anti-dieter


When you have twenty, go back and prioritize them in the order you feel they should have been numbered. Then jot down notes next to each - feelings, anecdotes, memories, etc., that tell or describe why you are an expert in that category.

For example, though I would prefer to write about the wonderful life I share with the current husband, think of all the wisdom and woe I can wring from the two divorces. Oh, the stories I could tell!

Try this the next time you need to brainstorm ideas or you need to chisel away at the writer's block.