Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bringing home the bacon.....

Murky, murky, murky. Life just gets less and less transparent as the years go by. Highly inconvenient, I must admit.

I might have thought....if I had thought about it at all.....that age and the accompanying maturity would lend itself to knowing the answers a litte faster or easier than when we clattered around in our 20s or 30s. Maybe even longer depending on some folks' inability to learn from mistakes.

I'm a very independent woman, a state that is a result of both my personality as well as the circumstances of my life. Raising children on your own will do that, believe me. You learn quickly that there are few people you can truly rely on, maybe even having the axiom, "If you want something done right, do it yourself" stenciled on your living room wall. In bright red.

But the longer you live within that bubble of self-sufficiency the less it appears that you need anyone else or their help for anything at all. Many women build walls that are strong and often tower over those (and I mean men, of course) who get too close, either inadvertantly or with good intentions of being useful.

Soon we begin to believe it ourselves, the fact that we don't need anyone, we can take care of ourselves, thank you very much, so everyone needs to stand back behind that solid concrete wall, that one that we erected over the years for protection.

But the problem is that we DO need each other in lots of ways that have nothing to do with one gender being "weaker" or "stronger."  It has to a lot to do with the undeniable symbiosis inherent in being human in our culture, and less to do with gender inequities that still exist whether we like to think so or not.

I can carry on successfully by myself.....if we're measuring success by dollars and cents. Our culture, though, sometimes traps both men and women into identity roles that we don't even notice after a while. We're so used to clutching either our independence or our deeply ingrained sense of role tightly to our chests that we miss each other completely. The fact that I could support myself was not the same as not needing anything.

I didn't need a man to pay my bills or "bring home the bacon" but I did need someone to support me emotionally. Life is hard, and it is nice to have a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold as we face the storms together.

Rather than being constrained by the male/female roles of weak vs strong that still slither around the edges of our society, maybe we should just all relax and be human instead. I can ask for help without threatening my independence, and it can be offered without fear of being rebuffed as sexist.

I used to think this was all so clear.

"Limits exist only in the mind."


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stepping off cliffs......

Once you've stepped off the cliff into the unknown a few times, it gets a lot easier. Much like that cartoon character that somehow misjudges where the edge is and than hangs out in thin air, perplexed, before plummeting to the ground below. Again.

But it sure is fun, even though it often takes a while for my stomach to catch up with my body as I take these  monthly adventures. It can't be too bad, because I find myself running off the cliff to hang over the precipice of the unfamiliar a lot more often lately. I just have to hope the bottom isn't too hard when I get there. 

Let's catch you up. I drove a boat and I published my latest the same month. Finally. Both events had been dancing around the edges of my life for months. Well, if I'm honest about the book, it's been years. But you know the saying about giving up. In other words, NEVER.

Friends picked me up in their boat at the marina near my house on a bright blue Saturday, and we headed out into the river, sun drops dancing across the water. There's a calm that descends on the water, a sense of peace that allows you to be still, unhurried, quiescent. Until the men who were with me in the boat put me behind the wheel with instructions to "floor it!" Or the equivalent in the language of boaters. 

What is it about the male of the species (who really are from Mars, you did know that, right?) that demands speed in all things? My goal was simply to drive a boat, not create a wake that would swamp every dock along both sides of the river. So, this adventure being mine, we putzed along, enjoying that huge tree that had fallen into the river, listing like a drunken sailor who never made it back to his ship. The log that we mistook for an alligator until we got right up next to it. The eagles soaring over our heads, maybe out for their version of a stroll before heading back to their nests perched high in the mossy trees. A glorious adventure that was worth the wait.(Thanks to James and Diane for making it happen.)

Then there's my book, the second that I have birthed. Publishing my own work isn't what I had in mind this time around, but after several years of submitting the manuscript, my attention span waned. (There's much more I can say on this frustrating topic and I will some day. But not today.) So, I took control of the situation, and ventured into the world of digital publishing. It's too early to tell how successful this toe dipped into the waters of tablets and readers will be, but it is something I've never done before. The day the cover design arrived in my email box was pretty exciting, I have to admit. My adventure to become complaint free was finally going to be available to more than a handful of personal friends.

Oh, did I mention the moonlit dance on a deserted street, the stars the only witnesses to one of the most romantic events in my life? That makes three new things in one month, doesn't it?

See....once you open your soul to all the possibilities that await just around that corner up ahead, events take on a life of their own. All the things you had never done before become the things that merely hadn't made their way to you. Yet.

You can find Nothing to Complain About at, Barnes and, and

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Turning mirrors to the wall......

Here's a question for you: If you hang a mirror with the glass toward the wall, will it reflect backwards, too?

Oh, stop laughing. I'm serious. I'm asking because some parts of my life today look so much like a very long time ago.

Remember when we were teenagers and we had finally made contact with that hot new crush from school? Maybe a few dates later the two of us needed a more private place to go, because....well, you know why, right? Holding hands and a quick kiss on the front porch after a movie just wasn't going to satisfy us any more. We needed some ALONE time.

But mom and dad simply insisted on being home, and things like closed bedroom doors with a non-family member of the opposite gender or staying out all night weren't even part of the cultural conversation at the time.

So, we made out in cars, both front and back seat, or went to a friend's house after school where maybe there was less supervision. Sometimes we really pushed the envelope of the era (and believability) and lied about spending the night at that friend's house and never went near the place at all.

Such was the life of a teenager in heat.

Well, deja vu just sauntered into the party! Those of us who have worked our way through marriages in a variety of ways--divorce or death (the widow/widower kind, not murder, although it might have been merited)--find ourselves single after 60 again. And if you younger readers out there think that all that hand holding/kissing/making out stuff is over after 60, you are in for a lot of fun when you finally get here.

But there's a strange little crack in the mirror. If you recall from previous columns here, many of us are also taking care of elderly parents. Or returning adult children. So, many of us are cramming our clothes--and selves-- into smaller and smaller spaces in our own homes to make way for all these people.Which has snatched our privacy away, as surely as if we were......teenagers!

We can't throw these people out. We don't WANT to throw them out. We just need some privacy again.

Somewhere. Anywhere. It's like that mirror turned to the wall is seeing the past and bringing it forward into the present.

I really don't know what to do with that mirror, but I do know that hotels get really expensive. And people still want to know where we went when we get home.

It's hard to just kinda get some privacy and do your own thing.
Shaun White