Friday, January 27, 2012

And the genie dances again.....

It would be easy to become so hardened by life that no one would ever break through the shell, wouldn't it?

Life has a unique way of knocking us around and then laughing at us as we teeter on the brink of not only disaster but sanity sometimes. 

I'm exaggerating, you say? 

Just think about your own life. If you're over the age of about 40, you can probably list five or six events in your life that other people would have a hard time believing if you told them the whole, sad, crazy story. 

I'm right, aren't I?

If this chronicle of my journey into the misty recesses of turning 60 a few years ago has done nothing else, it has given you, the reader, an unprecedented glimpse into someone else's life, with all its ugly blemishes and cracked veneer. Sometimes its beauty, too.  

That would be MY life, of course. But I'm no different than any of you. We move through our days, we make huge mistakes, we clean up after ourselves the best we can, and we try again. And again. Often, we aren't the ones making the errors: It is others who stumble into our lives,  smashing the furniture and generally creating havoc. All we can do in those instances is go find the dustpan and broom and start sweeping the mess out of the way. Or step over the broken pieces of our lives and just keep going.

Do you remember the publisher who called and "offered me a contract" on my book manuscript, the book about not complaining? Oh, the irony of it all. I researched the company, I scoured their website and their listing in my Writer's Market book, the bible for authors. I trusted the woman who called me that Sunday in early September, the one who said the words every writer longs to hear. They wanted to publish my work.

It seems the cosmic genie is dancing a jig in the padded room again. The publishing company neglected to say, or to disclose to that bible I mentioned earlier, that oh, by the way, the author has to pay for the first printing of her book. 

I believe that is called self-publishing, isn't it? The very thing I was dead set against with this book. And I still am.

A kick in the gut, for sure. Deceitful chicanery at its best. The genie is dancing in double time right now.

Oh, yes....I admit it. I complained for a little over a week. Loudly. I cried. And I hated to tell all of you about how I was deceived, even at my age. 

But that's why we all convene here, isn't it? The roller coaster catapults down into the depths and scares us to death. But it always comes back up.

Stand back. Here I come again.

"If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying. "Here comes number seventy-one!" Richard M. Devos

Monday, January 23, 2012

A birthday tribute......

She will live in my mind and heart as a sunny child, blonde curls bouncing, her smile quick and sweet. My daughter’s twenty-eighth birthday is today, that age when we see that next decade looming ahead, yet aren't quite ready to leave the one of non-stop fun behind. Adult responsibilities are hers now, buying groceries and paying bills, all the things I tried to shield her from as long as I could. At that age, we all believe it will be different for us, only to find the days just as our parents often described, sometimes tedious, sometimes frightening, but often filled with beauty.
            There aren’t many things we can point to in our lives that are perfect. We move through our days bewildered and unsure of our decisions, and then we’re faced with cleaning up after ourselves, wondering what we could have been thinking when we set off on a rocky path. But this child, a woman now, was a being in the universe waiting patiently to find her way to me. Our destinies were determined timeless eons ago, and ultimately that time arrived. I knew her name the moment she was conceived, the instant marked in my heart as well as my body. She spoke it to me, soul to soul, heart to heart, and it was done. I read to her as she laid waiting in my womb, my words falling around us as I rocked her within, the Colorado wind molding a world that sparkled with sun and snow. Then, as she lay in my arms for the first time, we already knew each other well.
            I turned around and she was five, marching off to kindergarten, unconcerned about leaving me behind, knowing I would be there at the end of the day. This was a new adventure to her, something else to be conquered along with basketball or any other ball that bounded across her path. Braces followed when she was 10, another rite of passage along with a failed experiment with eyeglasses. Contact lenses didn’t get in the way of all those balls, so the switch was made, her optometrist amazed at her ability to adjust at her age.
            High school passed in the mere blink of an eye, a blur to me of awards for a tapestry of topics from art to building a successful stock portfolio in economics class. And the balls kept on bouncing, earning her a scholarship to college, one of her fondest dreams realized. My pride burst for her.
            But the image of those blond curls framing the bright hazel eyes of a little girl is still the picture that clicks into focus first when I think of her. Only then is it followed by the reality of her adulthood, a reminder of the march of time for me. I regret many things in my life. Those who say otherwise aren’t paying attention. Some of my regrets involve my daughter: How I handled a normal, yet difficult, teenage situation, or a decision I made on her behalf. But the certainty of her being part of my soul has never been questioned. We knew each other millions of years ago, somewhere, and we knew what our roles were to be. 

 A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous...full of beauty and forever beautiful...loving and caring and truly amazing.
-- Deanna Beisser

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dancing fool, part 5

It has been such an unusual experience. My love affair with dance, specifically ballroom and Latin dance, caught me totally off guard about 9 months ago. If you recall, I walked into a dance studio on April 28, 2011 to take ONE dance lesson. It was part of my monthly "do something I've never done before" adventure that has brought me such joy and rejuvenation.

That ONE lesson has turned into 9 far....and I anticipate the lessons will continue as long as I can scrape up the money for them. I made a conscious decision to set aside all other purchases, like the iPhone I was about to buy right then, or any new clothes that weren't essential, and certainly no new shoes. And I haven't regretted that decision for a second.

When asked why I love this art form so much, I have no answer. I can't even explain it to myself when no one is around to hear my rambling. All I know is that my twice-weekly dance lessons are the highlight of my week, my life actually. I've gone from being an up-tight woman who has lived her entire life enmeshed in intellectual effort and have embraced movement without thought (well, at least I instructor would differ on how much progress I've actually made, I'm sure). 

So, when I came across this reading in a book that I'm working my way through this year, I was struck with how closely it does mirror how I feel about dance in my life. I hope the author doesn't mind that I'm making a few changes; I'll give her full credit before we leave:

     Just being on the dance to reach the place where the only thing that exists is the sound and the moving with the sound. The music...that was outside of you is now within you, and moves through you;  you are a channel for the music, and move from the center of your being. Everything that you have consciously learned, all of your knowledge, emanates from you. There is a sense of oneness in which the heart of the dancer and heart of the music meet, in which there is no room for self-conscious thought. You are one with yourself and that act...... and you are effortlessly releasing it. The music is in your body, in the air, in the room, the music is everywhere, and the whole universe is contained in the experience of dancing.

I have always been closely connected to music. It touches me deeply in many ways. Perhaps moving to music is the connection that I was missing all my life.

I am so grateful that now I have movement through which to touch music right back.The circle has been completed.

How can we know the dancer from the dance?
William Butler Yeates
The original was entitled The Music by Mildred Chase, as quoted in 365 Nirvana: Here and Now, edited by Josh Baran.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baggage claim.......

I've got some.

You've got some, too.

Everybody has a bit to lug around.

And if they say they don't, they're deluded.

But my personal favorite is people who expect you to deny your own.

What the heck am I talking about, you ask?  I'm talking about the baggage we all have.

You know....that baggage that you're lugging along behind you, some of the contents spilling out all over the sidewalk as you desperately try to ignore them. The suitcase that has gaudy stickers all over it with the names of all the places...well, actually, people.......who have wandered in and out of your life, creating messes that you've had to clean up or run away from. You've tried to peel those darn things off the trunk with your fingertips, but no such luck. Little corners tear off here and there, but the glue sticks to your fingers anyway, leaving the residue behind. And the rest of those stickers just stay stuck anyway, refusing to be removed and insisting on remaining part of your life no matter how hard you try to ignore them. We just can't seem to get rid of the mess.

I met a man at a Japanese restaurant for lunch a number of years ago. It was our first meeting, the one where you size each other up, trying to envision if there is any future for the two of you. Usually not, but we are eternal optimists, aren't we? We ate funny looking food, we shared information about ourselves, he kept aligning his napkin perfectly with the edge of his knife. (I should have known right then.) Finally, he looked at me and said, "I'm not looking for anyone who has any baggage."  I smiled as I lied and assured him that I had no such thing, my luggage was safely stowed away at home, behaving itself. I mean, what did he expect me to say to that, anyway?

In reality, as all sane people know, those bags hold our lives, both the good stuff and the bad. We can't deny that, or expect others to deny theirs.

And by the way.....that man turned out to have a steamer trunk of his own, filled with enough neurosis to sink the Titanic. My advice to younger women is this: If he asks you if you have baggage, stand up tall, say, "Of course! And it's made me the woman I am today!" and then RUN.

No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car. 
August Strindberg


Friday, January 6, 2012

It'll turn up......

I had a really good topic for today, but I've forgotten what it was.

My best thinking is done in my car, my moving meditation device. So I bought one of those hand-held recorders to keep in the console right next to me. That way, as I wended my way through traffic, enjoying the tailgater behind me immensely and a thought struck me (at least a different one than what I was screaming at the tailgater), I could whisk that device out and record enough to jog my memory later.

Then the recorder got lost in my car.

I also lost all the tiny tapes, one by one, after I took them out of the machine, carefully labelled them, and put them.....somewhere.

The most maddening part of this phenomenon is that I can search, and search, and search for some errant item and then finally give up. Only to find it later, sitting in plain sight where I had just been looking.

This is so common that I have a "one size fits all" catch phrase for this: It'll turn up.  And it usually does. So, I stop looking, turn my attention elsewhere, and sure enough, it turns up.

If you're waiting for me to explain this, you can go read something else. I don't have a clue.

But my personal favorite experience is when I forget what I'm saying right in the middle of saying it. How does that happen?

Talk about embarrasing, especially if it occurs in the middle of a business meeting. You're on a roll, supporting your plan or your viewpoint or whatever is on the table at the time, and for no reason at all, your entire train of thought vanishes! Poof! Your mouth even may still be moving from the word before, and then your mind literally becomes a blank slate, empty, while your lips struggle to form whatever word WAS going to be there just a second before.

It's as if your mind develops holes in it, like the sieve you use in the kitchen. Instantaneously. With no warning, everything that was just there leaks out, and you're left with.....nothing. A deserted warehouse.

There is so much that is wonderful about getting older, aging gracefully in a society that is youth-obsessed.

This isn't one of them.

“The existence of forgetting has never been proved: we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.”

Friedrich Nietzsche