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Posts from the ‘Humor’ Category

Seriously Bittersweet Love

He is impressively quick to dodge the meatloaf as it flies across the room and splats against the wall where he was just standing. It hangs there for a moment, the suction created by the raw meat holds it to the wall momentarily as we both stare at it, eyebrows raised, in a kind of reverential silence. Eventually gravity takes over and the pink mound begins to slide slowly down the beige wall, leaving a slimy trail of red ketchup and flecks of onion in its wake. I notice that the onions have been chopped a bit too big. I make a mental note to dice them much smaller next time.

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And Isn’t It Ironic, Don’t You Think?

Sigh. I love my husband more than that holy water. I really do. But I'm not gonna' lie, it is a love that was sorely tested that day.

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I told Dad what you said about him . . .

“I told dad what you said about him,” my fifteen-year-old daughter said to me the other day. A stab of panic gripped my stomach. Had I said something derogatory? I knew I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, especially to my daughter. But that irrational thought still crossed my mind and my heart. Maybe I had made a joke about him and she had taken me seriously? Maybe I was feeling some residual guilt from a time in my life when I was often careless and callous with my words about others. (It still happens, I’m no saint, but I work hard at being more aware of harsh words before they pass my lips.) She must have seen the worry on my face, because she quickly explained;
“I told him what you said about him being so good and kind and funny, and how you felt grateful to have him as your husband. When I told him what you said, mom, he smiled.” As she told me this, she smiled too. So did I.

It is so easy to tell our children how much we love and appreciate them. Through this conversation with my daughter I learned how important it is to tell them what we love and appreciate about others too, spoken from an easy and casual place of truth and sincerity. Out loud.

I think this may apply to how we speak to others too, not just to our children.

What do you think?

Mammaste

There is so much Divinity in the Everyday.

Catching Joy

I have set a trap in my front yard. The idea for it started a couple of years ago when I saw a ‘free’ sign scribbled on an old Adirondack chair while on a walk with my husband, Alan. Alan knows I cannot resist an orphaned chair. Soon enough he plodded back to where I stood admiring the chair and picked it up as I grabbed the matching footrest and we made our way home.

The old chair sat in our back yard for two years as an idea began to percolate in my mind. Finally, this year I set my trap. With the help of my bewildered husband, we laid fresh green sod on the chair’s seat and footrest. We built-up the arm rests and planted ground cover in them. We stapled chicken-wire to its sloping back and filled it with potting soil and upholstered it with hundreds of little succulent plants. We tucked the chair under the shade tree on our front lawn, right next to the sidewalk and waited.

My home office is on my front porch and I often get to witness the joy I capture in my trap first hand. It began with the children who often run ahead of the grown-ups on their walks. They are almost too easy to catch.  With their fresh, inquisitive eyes and low stature, they are drawn into the chair’s whimsey from a block away and they easily  ensnare their adult charges with squeals of delight.

The next to fall prey are the older men and women. Their un-hurried pace and seasoned gaze never miss the chair, and though they are not loud like the children, very much like the children they always stop and cheerfully go over every detail with wide smiles.  Often I will capture the amused attention of dog walkers who notice too late the lifted leg on the chair’s footstool as they yank the leash and guiltily look up to the house. (It’s okay, I don’t mind!) New parents lazily pushing sleeping babies in shiny new strollers whisper their admiration.

But the hardest and most elusive prey are the joggers, with their headphones and determined, focused attention on the road in front of them. As I watched them pass by over and over again, oblivious to my joyful trap, I realized I had to do something clever to grab their attention. So, one beautiful sunny day I hung my parakeet’s cage from the tree, right over the chair. He sang and chirped his delight at being outside. “Irresistible,” I said to myself, “surely this will catch them!”

Soon I noticed a jogger coming up the street, she breezed past the bird and chair without breaking stride. I sighed. But, what’s this? She is circling back! She stands panting, smiling at the chair for a moment before bounding away again.

That’s what I love most about my trap, it’s a catch-and-release program!

While out watering the chair one day a man drove past, then reversed his car and pulled up next to me to say how much he loves driving by our yard on his way to and from work. He thanked me for creating the chair, for the joy it brings him.

And so it goes. Surprise, joy, delight and gratitude fill me too. Just one of the many ways extending even the smallest gesture of love comes full circle. Isn’t that just so beautiful, the way love works?

Mammaste, notice the divinity in the everyday!

The Oxymoron, a Mother’s Privacy

When my oldest was about four, she was trailing behind me into the bathroom when I turned to her and said, “Honey, could you give mommy a little privacy while I take a shower?” To my surprise she replied, “Sure!” and left.

As I stepped into the shower, I could hear her rummaging in the hall closet. Soon she returned, yanked back the shower curtain and announced, “Mom, I looked everywhere for your privacy, but I can’t find it. I don’t know what it looks like.”

As every mother knows, truer words were never spoken.

Mammaste!

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Confessions of a Church Lady in Charge

I smile and acknowledge ownership of the bag with a nod just as the woman reaches in and pulls out a huge pair of my old maternity underwear. She holds them up with two hands at arms length and tilts her head quizzically. They are so thread-bare and tattered that the elastic is exposed through the frayed waistband. She turns to me with a grin and says,

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My Attitude is Everything?

I understand. All of us are a bundle of contradictions between what we practice and what we preach. But occasionally I run across folks who, when they believe they’ve mastered a higher rung on the metaphysical ladder, use said rung to clobber anyone coming up “below” them.

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In Every Face, The Face Of . . .

One morning I slogged down the stairs, feeling cranky and put-upon for having to make school lunches for my kids at 6AM, something I’d been doing for more than 15 years--with another 10 more years of tuna, turkey, or salami on the horizon. (I blame my five children for being born so darn many years apart.) It was with this self-pitying attitude that I tore the clear plastic seal from the top of the cream cheese and saw this smiling back at me.

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The Great Maxi-Skirt Debacle of 1972

Me and my maxi-skirt in happier times.

The year was 1972. I was a shy, awkward eighth-grader at Fridley Junior High in a working-class suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It all began innocently enough when my mother sewed maxi-skirts for my sisters and me one winter. Maxi-skirts were skirts that went all the way down to the floor and were high fashion in 1972; all the cool girls wore them.

Even though my mother warned me there would not be enough of the red fabric I picked out for my skirt, I insisted she use it anyway. The skirt turned out to be more of a red corduroy maxi-tube than the full, flowing maxi-skirt pictured on the front of the Simplicity pattern envelope.

Undeterred by the fact that my stride was roughly as long as that of a Geisha’s, I wore my maxi-skirt proudly to school that fateful day. I was shuffling down the hallway in a sea of my baby-boomer classmates, school books clutched to my chest when my friend Karen swept by me and gave me a slap-on-the-back greeting. That little push sent my torso flying forward at a velocity faster than my tightly bound legs could pedal. Factor in the weight of the books and my 80-pound frame and, well, you get the picture . . . an object in motion and all.

When I tell this story to my kids I insert a little lesson about the physics of this experience just to keep it educational. “Notice how ‘Turning Point’ becomes both a scientific statement as well as an understatement in this example,” I say.

My books flew ahead of me as I slid down the hallway on my belly. To the fast-moving current of students rushing up behind me, I was a rock in the rapids. They were stumbling and lurching trying to avoid stepping on me.

All the while, the tube-like geometry of my skirt and lack of traction supplied by my fashionable, but not-so-functional, ballet slippers made it physically impossible for me to stand up. I was flopping like a fish and polishing a nice, shiny clean spot on the dusty floor as my fellow classmates began parting behind me like the Red Sea, casting horrified backward-glances in my direction. My popularity, already weak and sickly, suffered its last agonizing death-throes right there in the hallway.

Enough humiliation you say? Oh, contraire my friends, this was just beginning. In the midst of my flailing efforts to stand in this sea of inhumanity, I felt two hands under my arms lifting me up from behind.  Guess what? Yes, it was the guy I had a huge crush on. (My compliments to God and his impeccable comic timing.) He was a big, handsome, popular, red-headed football player who smelled like Brut cologne, or maybe it was HI KARATE.  He was the lead actor in my romantic adolescent daydreams, all of them set to a score of David Cassidy ballads. (Heavy sigh.) What? I’ve already admitted I was not cool. Full disclosure.

After he placed me in an upright position, he steadied me for a moment to make sure I wouldn’t tip over again. He then handed me my books, gave me a quick nod with only the tiniest smirk passing over his dreamy lips before he quickly moved on. I scurried, face flushed red as my skirt, into the nearest girls’ restroom and tried to figure out a way to flush myself down the toilet.

Little did I know when I was experiencing my most humiliating middle school moment back in 1972, this story would become a favorite of my middle school daughter all these years later. She loves to laugh with me every single time I tell it, which she requests I do often. I like to think I am teaching her that seeing the humor in humiliation is all about not taking yourself too seriously, or some other equally noble life lesson.  More likely she just loves a good laugh at my expense.

The moral of this story, you ask? I have no idea, but my daughter seems to find comfort in it during her own awkward middle school years, and that’s enough for me. Fortunately for her, I’ve got plenty more stories I’m saving for her high school years!

Mammaste.

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

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Loving the Skin I’m In

My thighs used to be like two friendly neighbors waving to each other across the fence. Evidently, they’ve grown closer over time because they seem to have moved in together. This would not be such a problem if there weren’t so much friction in the relationship. Cripes.

For most of my life I have been blessed with an easy-to-maintain, healthy body weight. I worked at it not one iota. My metabolism burned high. My addiction to drama provided enough “weight loss through chaos” to send me into sizes smaller than my bone structure every five years or so. I still own the skirt from the time my first marriage was ending. I weighed about 100 pounds. But, my God, I was an actual size 4! I know. I know! Sigh.

Then two things happened. I began to shed my codependent tendencies. I fell in love with a nice, even-keel guy, and we had a baby when I was 39 years old. I was happy. No more size 4’s for me. By the time I had my surprise bonus baby at age 46; my stomach muscles were behaving just like the pouched-out knees of my well-worn sweat pants—not so elastic anymore. My breasts and my soprano voice set sail together on a nice cruise from a perky high C, to a low b flat as I waved a tearful goodbye from the dock. Bon voyage! And it’s true; you do get more forgetful with age. It seems I’ve also misplaced my waistline.

I am now 52. That last baby I had is 72 months old. The extra 15 to 20 pounds I’m carrying around no longer qualifies as post-pregnancy weight. All my efforts to get back in shape without the help of my old diet aids (misery and crisis) have failed. I couldn’t even manufacture enough angst, or pester a fight out of my husband dramatic enough to lose a lousy five pounds. Damn these healthy boundaries! What I wouldn’t give for a little old-fashioned passive-aggressive manipulation about now. I’m sure that’d be good for shaving a pound or two. Alas, no one will participate–killjoys.

After several failed runs at diet and exercise, I noticed that my relationship with my body had turned adversarial. I didn’t like it anymore. My motivation for getting in shape was to defeat this new enemy. I exercised (if I exercised) to conquer my fat, to berate my soft belly, to vanquish my bat-winged “Bingo” arms to the church basement. But my body has proven itself a worthy opponent. It does not respond well to self-loathing. Go figure. No, literally, there goes my figure.

Today I came across a photo my daughter took of me this summer. One I would never normally share because it is not the me I care to acknowledge personally, let alone publicly. But today I felt something different when I looked at the woman in the photo. I liked her and her gray hair, her crows-feet, her soft body and her warm smile. I realize now that any changes I make to this woman, me, have to come from a place of loving myself, including the body I have right now. This body that has served me so well, doing the best it can with what it has been given to work with.

I think I’ll invite her out for a little walk. I expect we’ll get along well, she looks nice. I hope she has a good sense of humor. She’s gonna’ need it.

Mammaste!

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