The End… (?)

Working part time as a caregiver for a handful of elderly clients has definitely introduced me to some unique individuals, as well as cementing my belief that each of us are different from the rest; that each of our stories is completely our own, and need to be shared. I have one client who remains as sharp, witty, and caring as she must have been 70 years ago, when I visit with her we chat about our days, our families, the weather, politics, and we people watch. Whether it be on tv, out the window, or in the lobby of her complex; giggling, poking each other, and making less than complimentary comments about some of her neighbors – those that she deems “the old folk.”

Another woman I work with has lost all use of her short term memory, leaving her with only recollections of her past. She seems to recognize me, and we greet with a hug, like old friends being reunited after too long apart. But soon she begins to ask me about my family, and quickly expresses great concern about my lack of a husband and any children. “You’ve got to find a good man soon,” she lectures me daily, “before they’re all taken, have grown beards, or are worn out.” She also explains to me with great care, daily, the importance of marrying a man with money, a nice house, a good job, and most importantly, “he must be a Menonite, or else our children will rot in hell!” *yes, that’s a direct quote*

This morning though, I met with a new client, a gentleman who while older than the rest, appears to be much younger. He’s presently struggling with the early onset of memory loss, and his doctors fear, dementia. While chatting in his comfortable living room, and getting to know each other, we discussed the weather, politics, family, and his daily routines. Then, after a few moments of silence, he quietly asked me, “if you could know, when you’d go, and how – would you want to?” I paused, and told him that no, I don’t believe I would want to posses that knowledge. I’d rather continue as I am, living my life, ignorant to the cause and time of my demise. I asked him what he believed, and he told me that he would prefer to know.

He explained that a few years back he decided that his family, his children, their children, and the babies after that, should know who he was, the life he lived, and the mistakes he made. Thus, he sat down, and in the course of a year, he penned his autobiography – he explained that it came in just under 100 pages, and that he printed copies for 20 or so family members. Pausing, he smiled over at me and whispered, “if I do too much more livin’ I’ll have to change the end.”

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Once Upon A Time…

This past week Northwestern Washington received a rather large dumping of white stuff. And, which pleasing to school aged kids, seeing as how they’ve gotten the entire week off school, and still somehow find it enjoyable to be cold, wet, and lack sensation in their appendages. But, for us adults, a snow storm means shoveling, extra laundry, higher heating bills, and more groceries being utilized. For myself, the storm has been nasty enough that I was actually “snowed in” for a few days, leaving me with little to do aside from clean the house, bake, watch movies, read, and grow more and more depressed as the snow continued to fall. It took me two days, but I finally realized that this is the writing time I’ve been looking for, waiting for, hoping for… I’ve been so busy with small assignments from the local newspaper lately that I haven’t had time to even look at my own pieces, stuck in limbo for whatever reason.

So, yesterday afternoon, I curled up on the couch with the laptop and a mug of adult hot cocoa. I started with perusing the Poets & Writers site as they have a great list of Literary Magazines that are currently seeking submissions in all different genres of writing. I quickly started noticing though that the need for creative non-fiction/memoir/personal essays is lacking, while the desire for fiction, short and long, is overwhelming! I commiserated about this to a friend of mine, read: whined, and he promptly informed me that as a woman, I’m genetically equipped to be a better liar and more deceitful than most, so the ability to write fiction should really be like second nature to me! While I appreciate his honesty, and will spare you the sad story that is his dating history, I’ll summarize by saying he has horrific taste and I’m quite surprised he’s not jumped onto my plan of a one way ticket to a convent, well, monastery for him. Anyways, I explained to him that I can lie off the cuff like none other, pulling god know what out of god knows where at a moments notice when needed. After all I’ve worked (and excelled) in customer service, sales, and insurance for the past 12 years! But, that talent leaves me completely when I sit down and attempt to write something that isn’t true, something that I don’t know, something that I have to create.

Why is it that there’s such a huge difference for me do you think? I know that my inner editor, Agnes, is partially to blame. Her incessant mutterings and suggestions are bad enough when I’m writing about something that I have first hand knowledge of, but when I start creating something, from the ground up, piecing together a skeleton for a creature that only I know exists, *whew* her rants gets damn near unbearable!

So please, help me out here, if anyone’s actually reading this, and if any of you are fiction writers, or if you might just have a suggestion or two to toss my way – just about anything is appreciated! I’m setting a goal for myself to have a solid fiction piece, no word count restrictions, no topic as of yet, just that it has to be solid enough that I feel proud and hopeful in submitting it somewhere, prior to June… So let me have it, what’s the secret to bullshitting on paper?!?!?

* Sidenote: While googling for some sort of an image to include with this post I stumbled onto this site – Books of Adam – seriously?!!?!? If that guy can have THAT much creative energy, and pull some of that stuff out of his ass – I’ve got to be able to pull just a little tiny piece from my own – right?!?! And, I’ve now been reading through his site for 30 minutes, and will most likely be stalking him for possible inspiration – absolute hilarity!

This year I resolve to…

(The following is something I wrote a few weeks back, and was happily surprised to find printed in this past weeks local paper under their monthly “Women Talk” column – thought I might repost it here as well.)

… actually keep my new years resolutions! Or, more specifically, I resolve to not completely dissolve them prior to the end of January! As women our resolutions usually tend to fall into the same categories, year after year, or at least mine do. Since I can remember, I’ve sat down on January 1st, usually with a bit of a headache, and slightly closer to early afternoon than late morning, a gigantic cup of coffee, a cheesy fried breakfast and a task – to decide what goals I’m going to set for this new round of 365 days. What’s going to be different this year, to make this one stand out (for good reasons) from the rest?

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the memorable definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results – this year, I’ve decided I’m finished being insane, 2012 is going to be my year of health, success, happiness, and only mild awkwardness – a huge step away from true insanity! And so, I sat down bright and early on December 1st to set my 2012 resolutions; hedging my bets a little bit by opting for an entire extra month in which to start building the foundations for these great new habits I desire to possess, and amazingly, thus far it’s worked like a charm! While some of my resolutions are the same as in years past (losing weight and having a healthier lifestyle), I’m adding a few new ones as well (to more actively pursue relationships that will lead me in the direction of my dreams). And, I’m attacking all of these goals in a different way. Changing my method of madness if you will.

Starting in December instead of January was just step one. I’ve also decided that I’m making my goals public knowledge, not just to my close family and friends but to you, the entire community. Meaning, I’m no longer standing alone, struggling to hold myself accountable against the rest of the world; instead, I’m using the positive thoughts, and inspiring comments from my fellow ladies as fodder for morphing into the woman I intend to be. As Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village;” not only to raise a child, but also, I believe, to raise a well adjusted, self sufficient, proud, community minded, adult.             Women, talk. We do. It’s an inherent fact that young or old, Amish, Hindu, Catholic, or Greek, we, as women seek out others, like ourselves, kindred spirits, to hypothesize, discuss, debate, and gossip about our daily lives, struggles at home, office politics, and soap operas. So why not use that? Why not band together to form a larger support system to hedge the bets in our favor? I’m confident that with each other, we can make some pretty miraculous changes – in the world at large, in our small town communities, and in our own personal lives.

So, there you have it, my hopes, dreams, goals, plans, and weaknesses on a silver platter – please treat them with care. But, it’s your turn now, tell me, what are your goals for this year? What new habits are you going to adopt that will make 2012 a year to remember? And how can we, your newfound support system help inspire you? Lets tap into the collective positive power of our fellow women and make this year our best yet.

Devastation & Celebration

There are few situations where we find ourselves so harshly torn between the emotions surging through our bodies, as in a time of mourning the loss of a loved one. This afternoon I attended the funeral of a good friends little sister. Sadly, premature deaths like this are nowhere near as rare as they should be. And, more than anything it urges the questioning of ones own mortality, and the unknown of when our own journeys will end.

The family and friends that joined together today, seeking to celebrate and remember the vibrancy, independence, and success of this amazing young lady were also brought together by their confused respect for a girl who struggled in silence with choices made, lessons learned, and adventures yet to experience. One of her sisters shared a poem that really struck a chord with me. It depicts so well how each of our paths is unique, and the wind or breeze that will move us in our right, and intended direction, can’t be summoned or commanded by our own selfish desires, it’ll only commence when the universe knows we’re truly ready.

If only this adored young woman had been able to hold on for a moment more, and seek out a confidant to help her brave her storm. She will be missed, her memories treasured, and her inspirational yet short life remembered as one of creative milestones, room brightening smiles, and all knowing eyes. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you steadfastly march onto your next adventure, as well as with your family and friends here as they struggle to find a new rhythm and make sense of their lives without you here. Your body may be gone, but your spirit will never be forgotten.

Raven, teach me to ride the winds of change

Perch where the wind comes at you full force.
Let it blow you apart till your feathers fly off and
you look like hell.
Then abandon yourself.
The wind is not your enemy.
Nothing in life is.
Go where wind takes you
higher lower
backwards
The wind to carry you forward will find you
when you are ready.
When you can bear it.

— Margaret Wheatley

It’s in his kiss… Or is it?

I remember being young, much younger than I am now, and getting absolutely giddy at the thought of receiving my first real kiss. Well, that first kiss came and went, without so much as a firework, or butterfly in sight. Honestly, it was quite a memorable experience, but for all of the wrong reasons. The setting, not a first date, or movie-theater with a boy I’d been passing notes to (circle yes or no), or crushing on from class. But instead, it was at a friends 11th birthday party, yea I know, I started my “research” early.

It was the first, of many, real boy-girl parties I would attend. “Real” meaning that we had finally outgrown running naked through sprinklers together on the neighbors lawn with unabashed enjoyment, overcome our immature fear of invisible yet life threatening cooties, and were starting to realize there was something strangely intriguing, unknown, and tempting about the opposite sex. A few of my friends had older siblings, and had overheard (read: eavesdropped on) stories about what games & frivolities were expected at parties like these, now that we were so much more mature, pin the tale on the donkey and freeze tag just wouldn’t cut it.

After a few minutes of whining and prodding from the birthday girl, her parents decided we weren’t in any immediate danger, and relocated themselves to the kitchen upstairs, no doubt to refill their party cups with spiked punch. As soon as the door closed behind them, we found ourselves being drawn by some yet undiscovered gravitational force into a misshapen circle on the well worn shag carpeted floor, in the dimmest corner of their quasi-finished daylight basement; all eyes nervously watching the partially filled 2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper laying precariously in our midst. The walls had been decorated with magazine posters of our favorite boy bands (NKOTB and Hansen *squeal*) and television stars (Devin Sawa, Jared Leto, and Leonardo DiCaprio *swoon*), the ceiling above dripped with colorful streamers, & limp oxygen filled balloons, and our pulses raced with prepubescent hormonal excitement.

Flash forward 5 minutes and don’t blink or you’ll miss my first kiss, with a red headed, freckle faced, annoyingly nerdy boy from school. By todays standards it would have been called a peck, or perhaps just an accidental brushing of his lower lip over my chin, and top lip across my teeth – or rather, my braces. I had been so excited about graduating from the group of “never been kissed losers” to the club of “chicks that’ve been kissed” that while I smiled awkwardly over my recently tightened brackets, he leaned in, and, we missed. Only now, looking back, do I realize what a gigantic moment of embarrassment I sidestepped. My newly blooming love life would have gone up in a poof of smoke right then and there if he had sliced his lip open, or even worse, if he’d been an orthodontia ridden preteen like myself, and our brackets had locked?!?!!? I could be sitting in a convent right now, instead of on a well-worn leather sofa in a local coffee shop. Renewing my vows of chastity and modesty instead of allowing my gaze to rest on the tender lips of the well-dressed civil servant next to me sipping his espresso.

Now, as I prepare to bid adieu to my 20’s, and march steadily, head held high, into my 30’s, I realize that so many of my past relationship attempts have begun with a kiss, much like my first, where for whatever reason, whether it be my smile, his anxiousness, or simply bad timing, we’ve missed. I can honestly say that I have yet to experience a firework lighting, goose-dot creating, toe curling first kiss, and anxiously look forward to the day it happens. Until then though, I’m biding my time, enjoying my solo adventures, and smooching a frog every now and then. I maintain the hope, and faith, that someday, that frog just might be the oddly nerdy prince I’ve been waiting for.

So, there you have it, the embarrassing story of my first kiss that really wasn’t. Your turn now – tell me, what do you remember about your first kiss? Was it a complete disaster, or are you one of the few blessed souls whose first kiss was with their soul mate?