Young Again

When I die, will you paint me
Young again…?

Eyes set forward, without tears for Ethan’s cancer at age six (he was here oh-so-briefly)
Brow long and high, not with wrinkles borne of worry for
Kaitlin’s solo, Jonathan’s baseball championship, and later
Kaitlin’s failing marriage, Jonathan’s lost job, and even later
Burying Jim after thirty-six years of happily and not-so-happily
Married life?

Will you paint me innocent? Free from fear?

Yet I look in the mirror at my
aged face,
tired eyes,
wrinkled hands…
Hands once delicately fingering a piano, rolling a cookie, painting a homecoming poster
And I wonder
If each mark of age represents an
unspoken experience,
valuable wisdom,
immeasurable compassion,
Would I trade it all back for a young face, thick hair, and soft hands?

-Karin Salisbury


photo credit

Yes, Twice

We arrived early and scored an amazing parking space. I was floating on air, with anticipation the only possibility of bringing me back to my seat while reminders to silence cell phones played across a large screen.

I thought back to my experience reading the trilogy. The books spoke to me more than most books I have read and enjoyed–helping me see past fear and focus on the power of relationships, values, and choice.

Of course, I could hardly wait for the film’s opening night.

I purchased my tickets two weeks early. (I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that…if ever.)

The moment arrived, and the credits began to take their places on the screen in front of us.

When the film ended, though, I felt heavy and exhausted. I bemoaned the fact that I promised to bring two of my kiddos (who also read and enjoyed the books) to watch it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to sit through it again. I processed what reasoning I could find for my feelings…but was at a loss. 😦

I spent the next day heavily in thought, wondering if the changes from book format to film adaptation were bothering me. I considered other books-made-into-films that I had seen as an adult, but I couldn’t shake the let down I felt from this weekend.

Finally, on my return trip to the theater the next evening, I put some pieces together. I was looking for an intimate experience, one of connection with characters, one which reminded me of the triumph of human spirit I recognized within myself as I read of their struggles cuddled in a blanket on my couch. I didn’t get that through my first theater experience.

I approached my second viewing more analytically. I felt much more closure and was able to process what I actually liked or didn’t like regarding the adaptation to film–and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the experience.

Yes, watching the film was so different from reading the book (isn’t it always?), but seeing the setting and characters take shape while experiencing highlights of the story again filled me with a greater appreciation for writers and those who direct and adapt to the screen. What an amazing process!

Overall, I would see Divergent again. Want to come with me?

Who Are You?

As I’ve been connecting through blogs and Twitter with many new and wonderous people lately (yes, I’m talking about YOU!), I’ve been reading several lines regarding what each person says “About” himself or herself…and I’ve been delighted to feel a little better acquainted with each of you!  Still, this experience of seeing what you write about yourselves (and pondering also what I have written about myself) has produced some thoughts upon which I would like to expound this lovely Thursday….

Who are you, really?  (And what are the first thoughts that come to mind when that question is posed?)  If you asked me that question, I might start by listing my roles in life (mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, neighbor, etc.), or my interests (“I like to write, paint, cook, read to my kiddos…”), or I might even define myself by my appearance (“I am about six-feet-tall, caucasian, hazel-eyed and have long dark hair”)…but does that really answer the question?

Some of us define ourselves through our experiences (“I am a widower,” or “I am a cancer-survivor”), while some others of us use our religions (Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Hindu, Buddhist…) to describe ourselves.  At times, (like during this last US election), people present political party platforms (how’s that for alliteration?) as part of their identities (though I would propose that quite a few Americans do not believe in the entire platform of a single party).  Some define self through a list of achievements (“I’m a straight-A student” or “I’ve published seven best-sellers”), while others cite their origins of life (“I’m adopted” or “I was an accident”) as part of who they are.  Some people define themselves by their sexuality (“I’m gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, hormonal, sex-addicted”).  Some use their careers as a definition of self (“I’m an engineer, radiologist, writer, nurse, cashier, toll-booth attendant, farmer, manager…”).  And let’s not forget the describing words regarding learning styles or brain capacity (such as I.Q., dyslexia, slow-learners, visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  Each of these labels come complete with social connotations and repercussions, but do any of they define who we really are?  I propose that they do not.

When my husband and I brought children into this world, I felt a desire to teach them to look at individuals in a holistic manner and not to piece them apart with labels.  All people in this world have varied experiences and belief systems, but–on the basis that we all share this planet together–I wanted to help my children respect the diversity of each person’s experience and not pre-judge an individual on the basis of skin color, religion, achievement, family situation, or any other label.

And don’t get me started on the use of labels to excuse behavior.  I know have been guilty of that in the past, but–in my current quest to live the best I can and live a life with no excuses–I am trying to do better.  I have heard people say, “Oh, that person is [or was] ____________; he’s [or she’s] just like that.”  When we accept a label to define our present circumstances, we often close the door on inviting ourselves or others to change for the better.

So, here’s a two-fold invitation I am willing to accept today (and I hope that we can be in this together):  first, examine the labels with which I define myself, and, second, examine the labels I use for others.  Am I projecting a negative or fear-filled belief from my past toward myself or this person?

For example, I have a wonderful, long-time friend who practices the religion of Islam.  She and I have discussed religion since we were in grade school, and I find her to be one of the most peace-loving people I know.  When the attacks on 9-11 (2001) came, several people spoke out against her religion while I defended it, knowing that true followers of Islam do not believe in violent behavior.  But, I know that people have given her upsetting looks since that time, simply because of the fear-filled belief surrounding that event over eleven years ago.  Are you hanging on to something like that which holds you back from being a better version of who you are?  I’m ready for some self-reflection–and I’m ready for this post to be over now!  🙂

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts here in the comments or here on my Facebook page.  Hugs!!!

Sometimes…

Sometimes I find myself mourning for the loss of one of my former selves…like I miss that girl in college, wet behind the ears, caring with an eagerness unknown to deliver what professors wanted (perfectly edited writing, organized statistics assignments, practiced music for piano and voice…what time is my jury?) along with what other students needed (support, acceptance, “When’s our Shakespeare paper due again?“).  Sometimes I miss her.

Other days, though, I find myself mourning that young mother, with three little ones.  You know the one I’m talking about…before the twins came?  That woman who woke with tired vigor after night nursing and read myriad picture books and rolled the enormous red ball with the toddlers,…the one who cradled that new little baby #3.  She was such a conscientious mother, seeking to still help others with so much on her plate already.

And still, I find myself wishing I could recapture that vigor of running home after school, slinging books on the table, grabbing whatever was left in the Cheez Doodle bag and then dashing out the door again to play football with friends down the street, the “younger” guy that I liked in 9th grade among them.  Where is she now?

Then sometimes I listen to Matchbox Twenty (they are on my playlist now), and I think about how far I’ve come…wondering if all the deaths of former selves are worth mourning over after all….  They have changed and created something more:  wisdom, experience, love.  I used to think I was most beautiful as a twenty-something bride, dressed in a long, white gown and my husband equally groomed in his tux (no pun intended), but that’s not who I am anymore, either.

I’m hoping this aging thing that’s happening to me looks a little more like beauty than society would think.

Well, I can smell the cake in the oven.  Must be about ready.  I’ll have to leave the mourning for another day.  The preschooler has been asking for an Iron Man cake since he woke me up at 5:17 this morning, so I’m off to mixing butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and food dye (& probably a little bit of shortening if I can rationalize it) into red and gold frosting.

Till next time,

The Me I Am Today 🙂

Image Copyright Sarah Knight Photography