It’s that time of year… (Flashback Friday)

Here is a post I wrote several weeks ago and neglected to publish then…so, as a Flashback Friday post, here it is!

No, Christmas isn’t here yet (though the retail market has been gearing up for Halloween since August…and I am certain that Christmas decoration sales are fast approaching)…it’s time for an annual office visit that I find terribly perplexing. So perplexing, in fact, that I’ve been singing these words to the tune of LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” while loading the dishwasher this morning:

(In case you forgot the tune, you can listen here. DISCLAIMER: I wouldn’t let my children watch this video–and I won’t watch it again. It’s definitely not Miley Cyrus at the VMA awards, but it still isn’t really appropriate…FYI. If I were you, I’d minimize the video and just take a little listen.)

I’m going to the Gyn-o
Gyn-o
Gyn-o
I’m going to the Gyn-o
No, I don’t think so
🙂

Well, I did confirm my appointment last week…so from a monetary standpoint (and from a health-related standpoint), I probably should keep the appointment.

I am thinking this morning, as a distraction, though, that I will go into the experience as a writing exercise. I have been trying to approach each experience as possible research for writing, and that helps me find value in whatever I am doing when I might ordinarily focus on fear. (And, singing a parody of an old 90’s song helps a bit, too.) 🙂

So, I am off to my day…to face my fear (and the stirrups).

Wish me luck! 🙂

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The DMV

She tapped her fingers nervously on her ripped jeans. She had taken the time to put on makeup–a smattering of eye liner (deep indigo) and smear of lipstick (shimmery bronze) covered her face. Her gold hoops dipped almost to her shoulders.

She had read the book, too. Downloaded it from the internet onto her iPhone.

When she had taken her driving test at age sixteen, her PawPaw told her simply to answer all the study questions, and she would pass. She had done that–meticulously–filled out each of the sixty-five sample questions and studied them. The process worked for her then and for her all her family members, who had just relocated from North Carolina to the panhandle of Florida.

Today she was 32, and the state where she now resided only had eight practice questions to the fifty on the test. At least she didn’t have to get into a car and drive.

“Number 82?” came a call from a tall brunette behind a brightly-colored counter. She glanced at her number and stood, slowly, deliberately. Her stilettos clicked on the linoleum. She smiled tentatively when she reached the counter, her fingernails tapping on the tangerine laminate, clashing in their fiery-red glory.

After the brunette checked (and took) her old license, perused her birth certificate, utility bills, and application, she spoke: “Computer Station #6, please.”

The heels again clicked as she walked across the room and seated herself in the appropriate place.

Her heart sank, even with answering multiple choice questions about her birthdate and age, to verify her identity. She tried to focus on the screen, but the background music drifted into her ears. She would take any form of distraction she could to ease the pressure.

“Wake me up, before you go, go…” sang a much younger George Michael, part of the Wham! duo. The song reminded her of the scene in Zoolander, which her little brother mimicked regularly–minus the explosion–anytime they went to the gas station together.

The screen in front of her glowed with a question regarding the shape of a STOP sign. Really?

She found her head bobbing and shoulders moving to the music, until the song transitioned into the female power ballad, “I Will Survive” by the legendary Gloria Gaynor. She chuckled quietly, and tried not to belt out the lyrics like she had done so many times with her older sister. Still, she let the empowerment of the song calm her into a more secure emotional place.

Another question was asked about the main way carbon monoxide can poison passengers. How did I miss that section? She made her best guess, and listened on as Whitney Houston was singing her peppy “How Will I Know?”

She was dancing now, feeling the relief of having weeded through 44 of the 50 questions on the test. 45. 46. 47. She answered them sometimes with her best guess, other times with surety. Could most of the answers really be C?, she wondered almost aloud, when large letters interrupted her thought process on the way to answer question 48.

YOU PASSED.

Thank heavens. She stood, without bothering to review the test questions, and relief swept through her. She felt all the feelings of a sixteen-year-old again–the relief, the exhaustion, the adrenaline of wanting to celebrate.

A worker took her picture on a strikingly bright green background. Not my best color, but who cares? I passed!

She paid her fee, collected her license, and clicked her way out the door, only she wasn’t sure her heels ever touched the floor.



50 Days of Thanks

Will you join me?

As I have contemplated how much better I feel living in an attitude of gratitude, I have been seeking ways to further cultivate this virtue. Here are some steps and background that have led me to this place in my life:
1. A few years ago on my birthday, I decided to write and send a message of gratitude to a handful of friends I might have neglected to say how much their lives have blessed mine.
2. As our family experienced several life transitions which have brought many wonderful people in and out of our lives, I felt a great desire and need to thank them.
3. I LOVE receiving mail…and I think many people might feel much like I do. 🙂
4. Bringing happiness to people is one of my greatest joys in life.
5. I have been inspired repeatedly by the sharing of individuals such as Hannah Brencher, who sends messages of love to people she doesn’t even know.
Read more of her message here on her TED talk:

As you contemplate joining me, please consider:
1. How would you feel to be a recipient of a letter of gratitude this season?
2. Would your time be well spent sending messages of thanks to those you love?
3. Could you spare a few moments to write, spend a few pennies on a stamp, and open your heart?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of those questions, I pose yet one more: Will you join me?

I will be, over the course of the next few months, sending out messages of thanks to those in my life who have touched me. I bought a “value pack” of fifty Thank You cards at Hallmark a few weeks ago, followed by several sheets of FOREVER stamps at my local US Post Office. I am working to write, address, and mail each one of these cards before Thursday, November 28, 2013–Thanksgiving Day in the US.

(Yes, I realize that the calendar shows more than fifty days until November 28th–it’s more like 71 from today–but some of you may want to create your own cards or may need to schedule a trip to buy stamps–or you may take a day off every now and then on those super-busy days–and I wanted this to be possible for all of us. And, since the mail doesn’t run on Sundays, we need a few extra days anyway!) 🙂

And I would love to share the joy with you!  So, will you join me? (Even if you write one more Thank You note than you would’ve done, you will spread love and light into the world which will come back to you…I promise!)

Commit to join me on Facebook or in the comments here. I hope to be posting support and gratitude messages for the next several Thursdays….

The Truth About Happily Ever After

I would love to be profound for a moment…but I just don’t have it in me today.  Let me just share a few thoughts….

“Happily Ever After” doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. And, everyday you wake up and choose to stay in love, you choose to work out issues, you choose to forgive and forget, and you choose to stay with the person you committed to “Once Upon a Time.”


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Remember that?  How your story together began?  And, in the true nature of princesses and fairy tales, your goal was/is:

And-they-lived-happily-ever-after
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Right?  And everything between the ellipses was just witches and goblins and icky bad guys that you would conquer together, right?

Nope.

Sorry.

It’s not really that simple (and yet, in some ways, it is rather simple after all).

After a decade and a half in the same relationship, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you now in a spirit of love and light and wanting to preserve and support relationships.

First of all, there are lots of moments and even days when I feel like this:

And sometimes I am so irritated, stressed out, exhausted, and who-knows-what-else that hearing a sweet love song like makes me want to spit.

Truly.

And I’m not good at spitting.

But, guess what?!?!?!?!?!

I stick around this relationship. Not because I want to feel crummy…but because I know that we are building something together. We are building a life, a family, our faith, and a future. You see, I don’t believe that relationships end at death.  I believe that we will be able to carry on our family and marriage relationships in the life after this if we will keep working through our issues and pulling together.

I know that media and maybe even the experiences of others might say that the grass could be greener in some other relationship. But, I made a commitment to this guy several years ago. More than that, I made a commitment (and covenant) with God years ago that I would stick with this guy. So, I’m not leaving. Even though hard things may come our way, I can do hard things. And I can do them even better when I have the help of heaven and this really cute guy I married.

So what if we are getting old? We are getting old together. So what if our hair is turning grey (me) or disappearing (him)? We make adjustments. So what if some mornings we irritate each other so much that we are happy to say goodbye? We usually make up during the day and are so anxious to be back in each other’s arms at the conclusion of the day.

Here’s my bottom line. Marriage is hard. It takes work. But it is sooooooo worth it.

On a more personal note, I used to hear lots of people say with regard to marriage that they loved their wife or husband more today than they did when they were married. For the first several years of our marriage, I didn’t understand those statements. I vacillated back and forth between super-in-love-happy to I-can’t-stand-you-right-now-and-I-need-to-go-run-before-I-say-something-else-hurtful-I-will-regret-later. I didn’t know if I would ever get past that point. But, eventually I did. And now I recognize that the need-to-go-running moments are less frequent and the in-love moments are more frequent (maybe that’s what those old married couples meant?)…and I’ve learned to weather and wait out the crazy times knowing that the bliss will return again at some point.

And I’m willing to wait for it and to work for it…’cause marriage is worth it.

And bliss is really sweet.

And I want to be with this guy for a lot longer than the rest of my life.

Thank…Whom?

A while ago, I was speaking to a woman of great influence in my life.  During the brief conversation, she asked me if I would be willing to write a letter of gratitude.

Sure, I thought.  How hard could that be?  I am blessed by many people who perform kind and generous acts toward my family and toward me personally.  I could just pick one individual and write the letter.  Actually, the most difficult part might be to find some stationary…(and don’t get me started on the lost art of writing letters…that post will have to wait for another day).

Then, she finished her thought (yes, I do sometimes interrupt conversation with my own thoughts) by saying, “to yourself.”

UGH.

A letter of gratitude…to myself?  Really?  What could I possibly thank myself for doing?  Keeping my cool when my kiddo punched me unintentionally the other day?  Cooking dinner?  Nah.  That’s just stuff that goes along with life, right?

Well, I let the thought sit in my brain for a while (haunt my brain, infect my mind, are you getting the picture?).  I didn’t know what I would write–and I had no stationary to speak of, anyway–but while I was writing in my journal a few days later, I decided that maybe I could do some “pre-writing” exercises for this letter…like, I could probably manage a few things I was thankful to myself for…maybe in bulleted form.  Sure.  I could start there.  At first, the bullets came slowly…but as I continued to think of positive aspects of my personality, talents I have worked to develop, and acts of kindness I perform, my list began to flow.

🙂

Along with a few other changes I’ve been making in my life related to positivity, exercise, outlook, and cultivating hope, I will say that writing a “letter” (list) of thanks to myself has allowed me a shift in perspective.  I am excited for the opportunity to look with gratitude toward the activities I accomplish and the work I am doing…and to recognize these aspects of my existence with thanks.

So, will you write a letter of gratitude to yourself? Will the task be an easy or challenging one for you? As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if I might extend this invitation to my family and see how they react to the assignment.

And, because you may find yourself in need of some musical inspiration, here’s Natalie Merchant with a couple of amazing songs this fine Friday! (Two versions of her “Kind and Generous” and one “These Are Days” with 10,000 Maniacs–enjoy!) 🙂

The Me You See

You’ll have to forgive the cheesy rhyming nature of the lines below (I beg of you, please). This topic is one I have given a great deal of thought, and after yesterday’s post, I had to get it down in word form (April is National Poetry Month, after all). Pardon me, also, for making the topic a little lighter with the rhyming nature…I guess I’m not exactly ready to deal with it seriously yet. Here you go!

Please acquaint me with the me you see.
I have such trouble sensing my own beauty.
Could it just be modesty?
Or denying myself the pure ecstasy
Of knowing who I could really be?

Let’s have a chat, just you and me
I’ll buy the scones, you bring the tea,
And we’ll sit on a balcony
And I’ll introduce you as you introduce me
To the joy of each other’s me we see.

I wonder if you could take the time this week (or during the rest of this blessed month of April) to help someone see themselves the way you see them, without his or her own self-criticism seeping through every thought. Could you write a letter? Send an email? FB message? Tweet? Or blog post? I will do the same. Decide today…before an upcoming (maybe tomorrow?) post when I have another invitation to offer! If you will join me, please share in the comments (or at least like this post) and follow-up after you have completed your intention. I’d love to hear what you decided to do and how it went!
🙂

Another poem…

Loneliness

I can’t remember which toothbrush is mine
So I grab one from the drawer, one I think is mine, and start to scrub.
I’m calling your number as the bristles scour off layers of plaque and the Caesar salad dressing
Ring
from lunch while I waited for you at the table
Ring
And the bristles tug at the sugar swirls from the Skittles
Ring
I had in the car on the way home from oblivion
Ring
And I finally feel a click and I expect to hear your voice again but it’s not you…only a computerized invitation and I’m waiting through the words to leave a message at the tone for
You

But your voicemail is full.

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