Moose with Bunny Ears

bunny ears on mooseMonday, March 30, 2015
Today I am grateful for a moose with bunny ears. There is a wonderful life-sized wooden moose on the lawn of a house that we drive by frequently. In winter he/she (gender issues?) wears a tassel cap and heavy scarf. In fall he/she wears a witch hat. In summer he/she dons a flowery, large-brimmed picture hat.

Lately when I’ve gone past, he/she has been naked. Totally naked. For weeks. I was starting to get concerned about the folks whose lawn it resides on, wondering if they were okay. I wanted to bring an accessory over and doll him/her up and would have if he/she didn’t live on an impossible-to-stop-on-curve.

Today on the way to an appointment, oblivious as usual, I almost forgot about him/her as I neared the curve. Poor, naked thing. Then I noticed a bunch of multi-colored eggs and a huge basket at his/her feet, drawing my eye up to the bunny ears perched solidly just behind his/her antlers. Mr/Mrs Moose is back in costume! BING! Heartprint!

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Center Stage

Mary at Center Stage! (2)
Friday, March 27, 2015
Today I am grateful for center stage. Oh boy, if you are a natural born performer (ham) or someone who loves the synergistic feeling between an audience and you. . .loves their emotional response. . .or their laughter. . .then you will love center stage as much as I do. There is simply nothing like it!

I’ve been thinking about center stage a lot these days. When I watched the TV show Nashville and saw the cast performing at the Grand Ol’ Opry. . .on the “circle”. . .I remembered the feeling I had when we were there a few years ago and took the back stage tour. I’m no longer the singer I once was. . .but I love me some center stage! Standing on that circle by myself, while the rest of the tour was moving on, was fantastic. I looked into the hinter-heaven’s where we would be sitting that night and felt energized. Put four thousand people out there and it’s even better, even if their eyeglasses make them look like aliens.

I understand that there are a lot of people who are terrified at the thought of getting up in front of crowds to speak, perform, or even read. I’m just not one of them. I LOVE it! LOVE IT! It fills me up like no ice cream ever could. When I was a kid I’d beg to do an oral book report versus writing it because it was the only time I had center stage.

Yesterday a good friend presented a great program at the YMCA that I go to every day. He asked a few of us to join him by reading some monologues from a fantastic play he wrote. We three Broads-of-the-Boards jumped at the opportunity. Not only was it great to read to an audience, it was great to hear character interpretations from my co-broads! Wow. Our collective talent level ratchetted up with every word and I was honored to be among them. What fun.

I am grateful that the experience made me realize I need to find more opportunities to get out there and take center stage. . . if only for a few minutes!

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Purple Purse

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Today I am grateful for my purple purse. Over a year ago I decided I didn’t need to always carry a black purse for every day, so when I was offered two free purses with a mail order of other things I chose one black and one purple. I have never used the black one because I fell in love with the purple one and now she’s bitten the dust. A moment of silence, please. Out of respect.

I use a purse like a filing cabinet with everything having its place and separate pocket so I don’t have to look at it to find something. I just reach and grab. It must have a shoulder strap so I don’t have to carry if I don’t have a cart to put it in, but I don’t want to always use it. This purse had it all. Pockets, a detachable shoulder strap, zippers and hiding places and it she wasn’t suitcase sized.

I spilled a bunch of oil on the purple purse awhile back so I Shouted her and threw her in the washer. I think “clean” was too much for her. She came out great. . . and then I noticed some white piping peeking out of the corner. I got out the embroidery floss and mended her. Every one, so she wouldn’t look stupid.

A few weeks later a short rip appeared at one of the zippers. Next a grommet came out leaving a gaping hole. The other day I noticed one of the handles was pulled loose, then another, leaving open seams and scars everywhere. Poor old girl. I can’t fix her so I stopped at the shoe repair to see if he could. He can, but then he started examining her like a surgeon. Under his light I noticed a hundred more threads threatening to unleash. It’s time. I have to put my purple purse down and she knows it. I can tell by the way she looks at me, but this is the responsibility I took on when I adopted her. Boo-Hoo.

Then I went on-line to see if the style is still available and was encouraged to find that it is. . .just not in purple. Horrors. I could have gotten white, yellow, red, tan or aqua, but what’s the point? So I’m using her sister now, the black one that arrived at the same time she did. She’s okay. . .has all of the familiar pockets and zippers. . .she’s just not purple! Cue taps!
Purple purse-best

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True Individuals

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Today I am grateful for true individuals. In this case the individuals are my sons. Each of the three of them are completely their own person. . .and each knows how to have fun like no other people I’ve ever met. Think they got it from me? I hope so.

If you think I’m wacky and “out there” then you haven’t met my sons. The guys got dressed in our room before one of my son’s recent wedding. When they were told they were dressing in my room, the youngest took it literally and showed up in lime green underwear and a t-shirt! That’s it. Yes, he walked the hallway on his floor, hopped on the elevator then walked down the hallway on our floor, showing up with a flourish and shouting, “Hey! You said we were getting dressed down here. . . so here I am!”

Gotta love true individuals. . .especially if they are your own kids.
Matt & Susan's Wedding 071

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Vibrating Chair Cushion

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Today I am grateful for a vibrating chair cushion. Okay. Go ahead. Have your fun with this so I can get on with the story. . . You all done? Good.

I’m having back/leg/hip/total right side pain. More than usual. I’ve been to the doc and had the MRI and I’m waiting to find out what the scoop is and what can be done. I’m hoping an injection of magic is possible on Friday. But I gotta function until Friday, too.

So I’m searching around the house for a “cure” and I find a gift on the shelf that someone gave me. It’s a long pad you lay on a chair, that plugs in and vibrates. Are you starting that again? Don’t get distracted! Anyway I got to thinking about when my first granddaughter was born almost 16 years ago and they had a vibrating baby seat for her. Even if she was wailing, you’d slap her into that chair, hit the switch and she’d be out like a light. Turns out that happens with old women, too.

I get in the chair, hit the switch and nappy time! Oh, and the back/hip/leg/total right side feels better. . .or I just stopped caring. . .so I am grateful. . .bbwwwwrrrr. . .ohmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . .chair-yoga for grandma. . .zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
vibri-cushion

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New Book

Monday, March 23, 2015
Today I am grateful for starting a new book. Mine. Not to read. To edit. To hone through, picking the crème-de-la-crème of stories I’ve shared. To create structure. To take what I have written over the last year and a half and comprise it into a book that will send publishers into a bidding war, wailing with delight at having “discovered” me. I want to be their latest over-night success. . .after 40 years of trying to find my niche!

Writing is easy. So far I’ve only had maybe two days where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. Two. Not bad. Most of the stories tumble out just like I talk. . .fast. . .loud. . .strong. . .and all the time!

But books are made or broken in the editing process. A writer must be brutal, cutting what isn’t necessary while leaving the true voice and integrity of the piece intact. Cut too little and it’ll ramble on and not make sense. Cut too much and you lose the rhythm of the writer. I love editing. I hate editing. Pass the chips!

My husband fed the printer while it shot off page after page of words. My words. I knew it was a lot, but when he handed me what looked like an entire ream of paper, I was shocked. All I could do was look at it. For a long time. Then I lifted it. Held the weight of it in my hands. . .and heart. It was like holding my soul, my guts, my joys and my tears all at once. Oh how far I’ve come from where I began. And what an awesome journey it has been.

Look at all of the friends I’ve picked up along the way. You. And you. And you, and you. . .and now you! Yeah! Welcome aboard the train! The more the merrier. I am grateful for every minute I will spend on the new book. But first I have to read it. All of it! Let the games begin! Hang on tight! We’re heading for a big curve. . .BING! Heartprint!
book to edit

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Spiritual Leaders

Sunday, March 22, 2015
Today I am grateful for spiritual leaders. I deliberately did not use the terms priest, pastor or others because I believe that there are many who walk among us who are spiritual leaders, but haven’t got the actual title. I believe in a higher being no matter what he/she is called. God works for me. Others might have a different name for the same entity. I see many good people of very different faiths. . .or no discernible faith. . . and I refuse to believe they are doomed just because they don’t believe as I do.

I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran. My church was caddy-corner through the block from a catholic church. In our teen years we were told to stay away from them and not go to their dances because we might want to sin with boys. I already wanted to sin with boys and I didn’t care if they were Catholic, Methodist or Presbyterian. Sounded like fun to me. In Sheboygan, Wisconsin you don’t have to do much more than turn your head to the left or right to see a church or a tavern. That’s the beauty of the place. The sinners did not have to go far for salvation.

I remember a huge scandal that befell my childhood church. The organist, a beautiful copper-haired woman who looked like a cross between a young Agnes Moorhead and Maureen O’Hara, supposedly had an affair with the pastor. Wow! Tongues wagged. Barbs were thrown. Shunning of witch-hunt proportions ensued. She divorced her odd husband and left my church. I don’t know if the pastor was reprimanded or if the whole business was swept under the rug. It might have all been rumor. For all I know they just connected as strong friends and gossipy busy-bodies with their own sinning guilty consciences couldn’t keep their suspicions to themselves. My memory fades.

At the time, as a probably ten-year-old kid, I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I liked the organist. She had strong hands and when she was practicing she would let me stand at the edge of the organ and watch her feet maneuver the rows of pedals and her fingers fly over three keyboards, reaching to pull knob-stops every so often. She was awesome. I also liked the pastor. When I had my piano lesson in the church basement, he would sing “The Lost Chord” over my shoulder, in his broad baritone. I was a lousy piano player, but still have that piece of music and think of him every time I play it.

I don’t know what happened to her. I’d like to think that she had a happy life full of forgiveness and free from guilt and shame. The pastor died on the pulpit. Literally. While my family was seated in the first or second row. . .our usual spot. While reaching up to make a point, he gasped and crumbled to the ground. He landed in a heap of vestments and dangling crosses, on the side steps leading to the pulpit. Congregational gasps rang out like a powerful chord. People rushed. Calls were made. An ambulance arrived. A stretcher hauled him out. But it was clearly too late. Snap! Dead! Just like that. I thought of the organist. Who would tell her? If she cared about him she would want to know.

I have not been a member of a church for many years, yet I feel more spiritually directed than I ever have in my life. I wondered why for a long time? Now I realize that it’s because I am so connected to my core values, with empathy, kindness and compassion forming the base. I struggled with who I was, what I was made of, for many years. Now I know. I’m forever putting myself in someone else’s shoes, looking at both sides of any given situation, trying to imagine what they are feeling, often to the point of irritating me. It takes a lot of energy to be fair. The rapist and the victim; the families of the murderer or murdered; the cheater and the wronged; the abuser and the abused; the molester and the innocent child; the violent and the peaceful. They all need me. Need us.

When I grew up I was taught that all sins are equal and forgiveness is always possible. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. How can swiping a pack of gum be the same as shooting a bunch of children in a school? It just doesn’t compute in my brain. And I was taught that if you “think” a sin (covet) you might as well have done it. I “think” sins all the time. So am I doomed? I don’t think so. I can’t always control our thoughts, just my actions. Probably spiritual leaders struggle with this one, too. I don’t know and I don’t pretend to know. I’ll leave that one to someone way smarter than me to figure out.

So often we expect our spiritual leaders to be above reproach in all ways . . .ways we could not manage ourselves. We hold them to a higher standard. It must be pretty lonely up there on the pedestal where we put them. But they are only human, too. They struggle with temptations, just like my childhood pastor and the organist did. They might make mistakes. They might say the wrong thing. They might be insensitive when they should be cautious. Mental illness laced with insecurity finds them just like it does us. They suffer from the same foot-in-mouth disease that we all suffer from occasionally, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But their mistakes are transparent and judged by their congregations. Sometimes they are asked to leave, with shame and despair covering them like a shroud. Sometimes their dismissal is valid. Sometimes it’s not. But they go anyway. Their calling has been tainted with tragedy and doubt.

When I hear of things like this happening in houses of worship, I can’t help wonder where the forgiveness is? Where is. . .“there but for the grace of God go I?” Where is the empathy? I cannot name a religion where kindness, compassion and charity are not front-runners. But even religion can’t take the mean-spirit out of some people. It is in their core. They probably will never find. . . “the peace that surpasses all understanding.” I am grateful for the ones who have, including the spiritual leaders among us, whether they are affiliated with a church or not.
spiritual leaders cartoon

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