starting over

starting over

that was the name of one of those 80’s movies. kind of cute movie starring jill clayburg & burt reynolds.

movie poster had her biting his ear, i think.  & this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with that.

i have some great news.

if you’re thinking i’m going to say the painting juliana audio book is ready — hell, no.  i was hoping christmas. nope. end of school? not yet.

bummer, right?

imagine me in the recording booth.  it is a blast! i mean, who could read juliana but me?

when i flub a word or hate the way i say a line — the wrong inflection in my voice, or whatever — well, i find myself saying this a lot:

“CUT!”

after listening to the recordings, there’d still be edits to make.  i’m not sure what was wrong with me, but one day, i’m telling you, i sounded like a complete bitch, which clearly wouldn’t work.

when i had to re-record the entire chapter, I reminded myself of what my dad would say:

it was easy, martha, everybody would be doing it.

but, why’s it taking so long, you wonder?

well, there’s my producer. his name’s nacho. short for ignacio, & i promise he wouldn’t mind me throwing him under the bus.

nacho is so freaking busy, it’s ridiculous.

he plays in 3 bands. heavy metal, brown grass (like blue grass, but trashier) & punk, or, maybe it’s cool jazz — i forget.

he’s worth it because he does incredible work & he’s a genius.

no, i mean, the real kind.

just when i thought we were about to pick up the pace, he got a job as the night desk clerk @ a marriott in town.

i love him to death, but i was like, seriously?

deep, calm, cleansing yoga breath.

if it was easy, martha, everybody would be doing it, I remind myself.

things happen for a reason, so chill out, i say under my breath.

good things are worth waiting for, but ……

aaaaaaa-aaaaaackkkkkkkkkk!

so, back to the name of this blog post — I’M STARTING OVER, RIGHT?

relax. not the audio book! merciful heavens, no!

i’ve started a new book.  

that’s right — a new FREAKING  BOOK, like the real-deal, hardback. 

the kind you can hold in your hands with pages made of paper that just smell so damn good.

i’m tired of people saying, martha, are you working on anything new? & me saying, oh, yeah — totally, when i’m primarily writing the book in my head.

or, wasting time doing a blog post.

don’t take it personally. I love talking to you, but blogging does make me feel guilty.

when the book-words really start flowing, like they did yesterday,  i kind of think of it like throwing up.

i know that sounds gross, but when it happens, i can’t write fast enough.

i also write in longhand. on a yellow pad.

archaic? maybe, but there’s something about that process of the words traveling from my brain, down my neck, shoulder, my arm, until they reach the pencil in my fingers that works for me.

there’s a woman i’m working with. some brainy phd psychologist who’s helping me with some research on night terrors for the book.

(that’s part of what the book’s about.     ssssshhhhhhh!)

anyway, i was writing her this email, & the ricocheting ideas — well, my head was like a pinball machine.

so, that’s all. just wanted to share & just let you know it’s coming great.

i’ll work as fast as i can.

TTFN —     ta-ta for now!

marching saints

marching saints

i read the newspaper every morning. sit in bed next to my dog bitsey & sip hot coffee. the crazy stuff in there blows my mind. did you know there was this man who lived with his mom in this teeny-tiny town, came home to find her dead of natural causes, then went around town with a rifle & killed 6 of his cousins?

like the bates hotel meets american sniper or something…

i also saw an article about the “brisket bandit ” who loads his grocery basket full of beef in the HEB meat department while his old lady waits out front in a yellow, souped-up buick le sabre. there was also one about someone’s jumbo meat-smoker being ripped-off. wonder if anyone made the connection but me.

i read the obits every morning, too. some of them tear your heart out, & maybe it sounds backwards, but some of them make me feel happy — like the ones where a woman lived to be 100 & her photo is of her at age 19. i really love those —  whether they chose the photo themselves, or someone else chose it for them, either way, it’s how they’ll be remembered & i think that’s nice.

maybe that’s why i tuck them away inside my bedside drawer. when i look at them someday, let’s just say that i look forward to remembering them when i do.

you know those obits that are 9 miles long & take up 3 columns that include a huge list of the person’s career & education accomplishments? this might  be strange to mention, but it always goes through my mind how difficult & time-consuming they must’ve been to write. the ones that list the prominent social clubs & country clubs a person belonged to always make me cringe.

hey, maybe it’s just me, but do you think it’s weird when people put happy birthday messages to their deceased loved ones in the obits? as if that’s where the person’s going to be looking, or something?

lots of people write their own obits. i bet you’ve known someone like that. completely obsessed with it — & i’m not saying that’s a bad thing. they just want to leave a precise record of the important things they did while they were on earth.

i wonder if right before they took their last breath, they’d scratch it all out & start over. to tell the things that were really important.

i remember when my father died. i drove down the highway as fast as i could. found my mother & my dad’s sister sitting at the kitchen table working on his piece for the newspaper.

i gave it a look. very short. i remember thinking, that’s all my dad’s worth — a short couple of paragraphs, when there’s so much more to say about this man i worshipped?  i spoke up, & said, don’t you want to put something in there about him that’s personal? who answered, my mom or my aunt, i really can’t recall, but, “people who really knew him already know those things,” is what i heard.

i didn’t like that answer much, but maybe when it’s my time to bury my husband or my brother, God forbid, i’ll have a different perspective than i did that day, i don’t know, but i remember telling my mother something really important. something my dad had told me years & years before.

“what do you want your funeral to be like, daddy?” strange question, i guess, but i really wanted to know.

there was a friend of his who had one of those big, beautiful baritone voices. mike sargent, was his name. my dad said he wanted the man to sing, “when the saints go marching in.”

i think that’s really beautiful, don’t you?

mr. sargent predeceased my dad, so, to close the service, the whole congregation belted it out  instead.

Oh when the Saints go marching in
When the Saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

the organist was really getting into it — cranking it up & adlibbing some jazzy riffs.

what an incredible send-off for my dad. zippy & upbeat. the tears became tears of joy.

if i know my dad, & i do, he was smiling. & laughing, too, i’ll bet.

how in the world did i get off on all of that? i’m writing about the brisket bandit, & next thing you know, i’m writing about a funeral.

doesn’t matter, i guess. but, if you want to steal my dad’s idea, go right ahead.

me, i’ve already put in my order — it’s what i want my friends & family to be singing at mine.

TTFN    ta-ta for now.

eat, pray, love & kahil gibran

eat, pray, love & kahil gibran

“you don’t need a man, liz,” he says. “you need a champion.”

a line spoken by that hot actor with the bedroom eyes, dimples & accent — think his name is javier bardem.

i’ve resisted watching eat, pray, love since it came out, & resisted reading the book, too, by elizabeth gilbert. it was like 8 years ago, right? something like that. i think it’s because i had a pretty good idea what it was about.

i don’t watch movies as much as i used to — not by a long shot. & i need to work on that. you can learn a lot from movies, not to mention books.

this liz woman seems to be julia roberts.

&, I’m not even watching the movie now, anyway, even though it’s on the tv — says at the bottom of the screen, “26 minutes left.”  below that, it says, “a woman comes to the realization that she is not happy. so after a divorce, she sets out on a journey across the world, during which she falls in love.”

same old familiar story, right? unhappy, divorce, expensive vacation, love.

hey, wait a minute… where’s the eat & pray? oh, yeah — coming in with only 26, now 24 minutes left, they must’ve done that already.

okay, here comes love. it would seem that now they’re falling in it. julia has that weepy, sideways look in her eyes. javier is watching her with an “i’ve got love on my mind” expression.

gracious. he just popped something like “girl from ipanema” on the hi-fi. now it’s the dance, the seduction, followed by,

the closed door.

change of scene. more dialogue: “love is scary. dangerous.” it’s the woman who’s treating julia for a bladder infection.

“we’ve only spent 2 minutes apart for the past 2 weeks,” julia says.

“too much happiness. too much pleasure. you make yourself sick,” the wise woman says…. “be careful, or you lose yourself.”

i know what she’s talking about. i know. you might, too, if you’ve ever been in love.

you spend so much time together – it’s just so fun — intoxicating — it’s all you want to do. you don’t want to be apart.

but javier lives in bali. julia lives in new york. when he proposes they try finding a life in the middle, she freaks out.

“you’re afraid to love again,” he says. “do you love me, or do you love me not?  look me in the eyes & tell me. i know you feel the same way i do. why can’t you say it back? you’re terrified?”

julia retorts in tearful exasperation, “i don’t know why you can’t understand this. i found something & i can’t give it up.”

“the balance you think you found is meditation & prayer,” he says back. “listen. balance, my darling, is not letting anybody love you less than you love yourself.”

“don’t say darling to me again, or i’m going to lose it,” she cries angrily. “i don’t need to love you to prove that I love myself.”

“don’t run away from me,” he pleads. “you’re running away from all of the great possibilities of your own life.”

but, she does.

she puts his photo in her travel bag & zips it up.

before she heads home, she visits her medicine man, ketut.  “you healed me ketut. i wouldn’t have come back to myself.”

taking her hand,  he looks at her knowingly. “you love your new boyfriend.”

“i ended it,” she says.

“don’t understand why you do that.”

she shakes her head. “i couldn’t keep my balance.”

“listen to ketut,” he says. “sometimes, to lose your balance for love is part of living a balanced life.”

she smiles.

the movie’s almost over. but, we’ve seen enough of them to know she never makes it to the airport.

in the meantime, julia gives a voice-over about “the physics of the quest.”

         “if you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.

          or so i’ve come to believe.”

that’s one kick-ass speech, don’t you think?

julia didn’t come up with it spontaneously — elizabeth gilbert put those words in her  mouth & she’s a damn good writer. plus, she’s definitely onto something.

julia meets javier on the boat dock. of course she came back.

they kiss, they smile. they speed in a fast boat across the ocean, breeze in their hair, sparkle on their eyes, into the sunset.

when I got married, the priest took from the teachings of kahil gibran. tonight, i turn to these words in my mind– i believe they speak to this “balance” from eat, pray, love.

see what you think. it’s from gibran’s “on marriage.”

“Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

i’m happy i got to catch the last 26 minutes of the movie tonight. what an amazing gift.

i also love javier’s line, the 1st line i caught from the movie, because it’s so meaningful to me. it says a lot.

“you don’t need a man, liz,” he says. “you need a champion.”

that’s love. & believe me, i’m grateful.

truly grateful. & blessed.

TTFN

passion

passion

i love it, don’t you?

simply intoxicating — there’s nothing better.

just so exciting. all-consuming. it makes you feel alive.

feeding that passion is the best reason in the world to crawl out of bed in the morning, & you never have to wonder what you’re going to do with yourself all day again.

but, to not have passion? a burning passion? i tried that already, so no thanks.

“what do you want to be when you grow up?”

ask a child & they’ll tell you right away, no problem — because the sky’s the limit.

me, i wanted to be a movie star. not an actress, a movie star– there’s a big difference.

i remember what my family said. all sarcastic. “martha thinks she’s such a glamour puss.” like it was stupid — & i thought i was so cool & awesome.

i remember thinking, “well, what’s wrong with that?”

&, it kind of hurt, really. yes, it did.

what happened?

what happens to a lot of us, i guess. feeling like we can’t do it. that it’s unattainable, whatever it is.

buying into beliefs we let people put on us.

i knew there was something about me. i was the funny kid. maybe it came from being the youngest of 4 children, desperate for attention, but it doesn’t matter. i made people laugh, & i knew not everybody could do that.

anyway, we get out in the world & lose our self confidence, our ability to trust ourselves, & even the feeling that we’re worthy of having it at all. besides, following a passion is indulgent — a useless idea we picked up somewhere along the line.

not only that — following a passion can take really hard work, you know. & it could be we’re just a little lazy.

just thought i’d throw that in…

still, i had a way with words & i knew i could communicate. down deep inside, i knew it.

so, think about it — what about you?

maybe you know what happens when you shove things down. end up with someone else’s dream. spending your time living someone else’s life when that’s really their job — not yours.

passion defines us. it’s who we are.

do you still remember what you said you wanted to be when you grew up?

have you ever felt like something’s wrong — something you can’t put your finger on, exactly —  just that there’s an empty, disjointed sensation you just can’t shake. like you’re not fully experiencing life. & it’s beginning to feel uncomfortable…

it’s like when your stomach is hanging over your jeans. they just don’t fit anymore. maybe they never did in the 1st place. they’ve finally gotten so tight that they suddenly split up the back when you bend over.

that’s probably an awful analogy, but i think you know where i’m going with this.

so, what happens?

there’s a person i know who i’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  one of my favorite people in the world & they’re going through a hard time.  i’ve known this person forever. my whole life, really, & in many of my earliest memories, this person is there.

had looks, & a killer personality. not only that, he was smart –like brilliant-smart, in every subject. smarter than i am by a mile, & i kind of hate those people, know what i mean?

still, with so many things going for him, my friend’s jeans split up the back. maybe it was cut-offs & not jeans he was wearing, but that’s not important. what popped out was an inner-feeling, i guess. just a distorted, scary picture of himself. not real.

what popped out was a damn lie.

i’d tell you if i knew the true reason —  I’m not a mind reader, but like i said- i’ve known this person a very long time, & i think he bought into some people’s ideas that were neither fair nor true, & rather than proving them all wrong & following his passion anyway, when the opportunity came to take the easy way out, he took it.

but easy became a habit & what came next was not a pretty picture. sapped self-worth, a loss of confidence & some really lousy choices. in his words, “it’s a pretty shitty deal.”

but, then, maybe i’m completely wrong about my friend. i mean, what do i know? i wasn’t exactly leading the passion parade myself.

i had this desperate, gnawing fear that wouldn’t leave me alone. i’d see myself as an old woman sitting in my rocker on my front porch looking out at the stars. just kicking myself. so disappointed in myself, because my potential was nowhere.

when i’d had every opportunity to change my life every step of the way.

i was about 40 when my wheels came flying off. to tell you the truth, i basically lost my shit. time was running out & i had no idea how to stop it.

& it only gets worse when you have kids of your own, you know?

i had a notion earlier today. something every kid should learn in school. i mean required, serious, no-kidding classes, early-on where they’re taught to follow their passion & hold on tight.

i finally got help.

yep, from one of those paid professionals who you can tell your deepest secrets to.

mine was a man. a kind man. not a lot older than i was really, but he seemed much older — an old soul, that’s what he was..

twice a week for an hour & a half, i’d be crying on his same blue-striped, velour sofa. i felt like i was crazy, & there’s probably something to that..

there was a breakthrough one day.

with one question, just a string of words, the man saved my life.

it wasn’t groundbreaking or earth-shattering. nothing anybody on the street couldn’t have asked just as easily, but it must’ve been the right time. his question was simple:

“what’s the thing in your life you want to do more than anything?””

“write a book.”

the words tumbled from my lips, free-falling from the cobwebs of my troubled mind.

his follow-up question — what he said next truly startled me. probably shouldn’t have, but i’m telling you, it truly did.

he tilted his head & looked at me intently. again, a question just so simple:

“why don’t you?”

seriously, i mean, really – think about it. unless they’re shoveling dirt on your casket, it’s never too late.

it’s not.

as  began writing this, i realized something. that little girl who wanted to be a movie star — it occurred to me that’s still who i am. maybe not what i originally had in mind, but i am going to star in a movie. rather, my words are.

i can’t see it yet, or even what it looks like, & i don’t know how, & i don’t know when — i just know that they are.

so, about that word passion…..

what do you think it means?

i just happen to have my dictionary right here on my desk. can’t live without it. random house dictionary of the english language

the unabridged edition

pas-sion (pash’en), n. 1. any emotion or feeling, as love, desire, anger, hate, feat, grief, joy, hope, etc., esp when of a powerful or compelling nature.

here’s another definition – i personally think it fits:

6. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything, i.e: a passion for music.

a few entries down the page, my finger stops on another word. a sad word.

pass-ion-less (pash’en lis) adj.  not feeling or moved by passion; cold or unemotional; calm or detached.

i’m telling you, with his two simple questions, that man saved my life.

what’s your passion?

i hope you’re one of those fortunate, fulfilled people with their fires still red-hot & blazing.

& what about those kids of yours? they don’t have to be your blood-kids – maybe someone else you can motivate. look around you — people are everywhere.

in case you’re concerned about the old friend of mine, don’t be. i was there in the very beginning & you don’t know him like I do. he can move heaven & earth.

we all know that for smoldering coals of passion, all it takes is a little fanning to kindle a flame.

TTFN

feeding the dragon

feeding the dragon

.
the very moment some words came out of my mouth, i heard a noise.

two noises, really.

thunder.

& a crack of lightning, like the cackle of a scary, old witch.

a little dramatic. & they got my attention.

because the words i’d just spoken were serious words. a total “integrity statement.”

i didn’t say them on purpose. not really.

you see, the person i said them to — he had something i needed.

& in order to get it, i had to… well, have you ever heard the expression, “feed the dragon?”

it’s not a pleasant thing. it means you have to put up with something torturous from someone — pander shamelessly, if necessary, all in the name of getting what you “need.”

imagine the old star wars movie return of the  jedi. you saw it, right? the one with the character jabba the hutt — the nasty, fat & slimy alien-monster who looks like a huge, greasy glob of dirt jello. if you saw the movie, you certainly remember jabba the hutt.

in the movie, he captures carrie fisher’s character, princess leia & turns her into his slave girl, & makes her wear iron chains & a metal bikini? princess leia endures jabba the hutt’s rank foulness, not to mention his putrid breath, when she could’ve actually wrapped her slave chains around his neck @ just the right moment & strangled him to death. but she didn’t because she was waiting for the chance to save her lover-man, han solo.

uhm, hello… played by harrison ford? at least you remember his character from star wars, right?

okay – so, how did i feed the dragon in my situation? that’s what you really want to know.

i had suffer through listening to MY jabba the hutt’s story over lunch one day, as i smiled pleasantly, nails digging into my palms, because his story was all a load of horse manure.

when the waitress finally brought our food, it was down to business at last. but, not before he blithely said:

“i hope i can count on you to keep our conversation confidential.”  translation: don’t tell the person i’m talking about, even though she’s one of your closest friends.

did i mention it was a STEAMING load of horse manure? &, if he was telling his story to me now, he had already told it to any & everyone who would listen.

with the squirmy sensation that i was heading straight to hell, i looked him in the eye & said these words:

“i don’t rat.”

hearing the roaring thunder & witchy thunderbolt, i reminded myself that telling him that rather than telling him off would allow me to still get what i needed, because i couldn’t piss him off.

plus, he was also paying for my lunch.

life takes finesse sometimes. a little smooth choreography to help things go our way.

the more i thought about it, i felt really used. like i was his garbage can or something. & besides, when princess leia had to feed the dragon, at least she got to look smokin’ hot in that metal bikini while she did it.

i mean, truly — did carrie fisher ever look better in her life?

i waited a few weeks before i told my friend what he’d said. i couldn’t help myself, because she deserved to know. maybe i could’ve thought, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, but i didn’t see it that way. it took far more integrity to tell the truth to my friend than to keep jabba the hutt’s confidence.

but, let’s be honest. a little part of me wanted to pay ol’ jabba back for making me feed the dragon.

through her seething anger, my friend told me basically the same thing i told jabba — “i don’t rat.” that she wouldn’t tell him what she now knew that he’d said about her.

do you hear the thunder rumbling in the distance? & how the air smells like rain?

but she did tell him. & loose lips sink ships.

what just happened here, i wondered, as i was pulling myself out from under the bus.

it’s called karma, baby.

my friend couldn’t help herself. just like me.

but, that’s not true.

i could help myself. every step along the way, i knew better. i knew it was possible that he would learn that i’d ratted him out to my friend.

maybe you remember what happens to jabba the hutt in the movie. oh, princess leia ends up choking him to death with those chains, all right. to big cheers from the audience. & for my money — it was the best scene from every stars wars movie combined.

i fed my jabba the hutt to get what i “needed” when i should’ve just said, “hey – i’m not listening to this,” whether it pissed him off or not — but that train had left the station.

so rather than lie to jabba about having told my friend what he had said — it wasn’t much fun. root-canal-fun, actually, but i owned it. because i had to be able to look at myself in the mirror again.

karma can be totally annoying. but it’s also kind of comforting in a strange sort of way, knowing that it’s ready to slap us silly when we need to learn a lesson. know what i mean?

& here’s the lesson i learned:

i’m finished with feeding dragons. i’m done.

TTFN

gratitude

gratitude

with the exception of the years i gave birth to my children, 2014 has been the most wonderful year of my life.

come to think of it, i gave birth again, this year.

i gave birth to my novel, painting juliana.

it actually happened – my lifetime dream.

i am grateful.

to God, my spirit guides & angels, ancestors, & everyone who’s helped me, whether i’ve actually met them or not.

& i say thank you.

thank you for helping me.

my heart is filled with joy.

procrastination & prayer

procrastination & prayer

forgive me, oh blog followers. this is my 1st blog post in 3 weeks & i apologize. i really do.

it’s just that procrastination is my nemesis. i find myself putting off new blog posts because they take so damn much time.

but, i learned something important today that i need to tell you about. it’s about control, i guess you could say.

control as it relates to prayer.

there’s a heartbreaking tragedy going on in someone’s life who’s close to me right now. a dear friend – her brother was in a crazy freak accident, bitten by a rattlesnake of all things after finishing a 5-mile run on the exercise trail behind the hospital where he works. venom went straight into his vein & pumped through his body at an astronomical speed. none of it makes sense. it’s all just so bizarre.

the man is a father, a husband, a brother, a son. a surgeon. in fact, it was between surgeries when he took his run. he’s been on life support & a respirator for coming on a week now. they found a second set of bite marks – not just on his ankle, but his wrist, too. & now, pneumonia has set in. just where it’s all going — well, who knows really? God does, i suppose.

of course, He does.

i’ve been overcome with sadness – so sad for my friend his sister, his dad, his wife & kids. his patients, present & future. a tremendous sadness like one i’ve never felt. so many tears. it’s been all i think about.

the prayers i’ve said – what i’ve said… please God, save his life. his work here on earth isn’t finished. Jesus, raise him up like Lazarus — i know you can. he’s got so much more to do.

struggling, i called another friend this morning. my special phone-friend who helps me talk through difficult things. he’s the kind of person who’s a real truth meter, who i feel safe telling anything to.

SPOILER ALERT — i’m one those “woo-woo” people. i guess you could say i have an open-minded approach to things i don’t understand, & if that’s a turn-off to some people — sorry. but, writing this blog, i’ve got to keep it real. know what i mean?

so, i told him everything i’ve just told you. plus, that with how i’m so consumed with it, it’s like i’m involved on such a personal level. my friend’s brother & i knew each other in college. not well — she was my roommate & he would come to visit, but i was always super-crazy about him. he was her younger brother, for heavens sake, so don’t get the wrong idea. but there was something there. i’m not sure what, but it was something.

these overwhelming feelings of mine have to do with a past-life experience between us. i know it sounds weird, i can’t explain it & i can’t prove it, but it came over me with such sudden intensity, i knew it sure as chocolate when the words spilled out of my mouth to my friend on the phone.

i also felt like this past-life thing between my roommate’s brother & me, my overwhelming feelings have to do with the fact that i was unable to save him before. unable to get there on time. like i said — something. something deeper. it was personal.

praying – more like demanding that God save his life, my trying to impose my will on roommate’s brother, how do i know what his will is for himself? And, what God’s will is for him?

i don’t. it’s none of my business, really. it’s their business. together.

& as soon as my phone-friend helped me understand this, i was able to give up my wanting to control. it wasn’t immediate. it took a little while because i really want him to live. & i’m pretty stubborn.

but, a feeling of peace & calm came over me. it’s what i’ve felt ever since.

control. i have none. over anyone but myself.

in case you think i’m giving up on prayer — not a chance. those things i don’t understand, i’m not always going to. faith. trust. it’s what i have for now.

His will be done.

which are you? a back-row or a front-row person?

which are you? a back-row or a front-row person?

me, i’m naturally a back-row person. it’s a great place to hide so people won’t bug you. sure, there’s the occasional sadistic teacher who takes great merriment in calling on the back-rowers anyway, but it’s a risk worth taking. i’m not the least bit competitive, either.

plus, i’m not especially comfortable with public speaking– think red face & throbbing neck muscles. you get the picture.

it’s how I spent my life, up until junior year in college when a light bulb came on.  hey…… i remember thinking. i’m as smart as those ass-kissers on the front row & if i sat up there, too & actually engaged, i’d probably get better grades, not to mention, i might actually learn something. so, i grudgingly hauled my little self to the front row where i steadfastly remain.

sometimes.

i migrated back there last weekend. the back row, i mean.

i was traveling. i’d been in san francisco visiting great friends. a really cool getaway that i really needed. i’m telling you, i’m either chained to this computer working or doing book promotion or whatever & it’s damn exhausting. oh, boo-hoo, you’re probably thinking. we all have jobs, so get over it…. you’re right, but i just needed a minute to whine.

okay, i can continue now.

trips are really sweet until the last day when you have to get on a damn airplane. &, no, i’m not some sissy who’s scared to fly– i’m not –it’s just a total drag. you know what i mean.

my friends dumped me off at the airport super-early. it was the husband’s idea, go figure, so he could zip down to san diego & hang out with his friend, daniel. oh, it wasn’t a big deal– i loaded up on four packages of chocolate kit-kats, jumbo-sized, & waited a couple of hours for my flight to vegas where i’d have a little layover before my final leg home to austin. don’t judge– chocolate while traveling is essential.

then i waited some more because the flight was mega-delayed- you know the drill. i kept looking @ my watch, wondering if there’d be time to catch my connecting flight. at the airline desk, i found out that i’d be boarding soon & they had everything completely under control.

moments after getting my seatbelt fastened & tray table in the upright position, i was hustled off the plane, knowing that my luggage was flying to vegas without me.

i didn’t get irritated, annoyed, grumpy– none of those things. i went into back-row mode. survival mode. hunkered down.

it wasn’t just me getting hustled off the plane, but about a dozen other people were in the same predicament. bringing up the rear, i followed them outside & waited half an hour in the scorching sun for a shuttle bus heading to san jose so we could catch a direct flight to austin.

a shuttle bus– can you believe that? but, i stayed chill.

finally time to load up, this time i was first in line– that’s how you get a seat on the back row. brilliant, i know.

so, i settled in next to a swarthy little guy who smelled like pepperoni.

did i mention that i hadn’t uttered a single word since i’d gotten to the airport? partly because my mouth was full of chocolate, but i seriously hadn’t spoken at all & i planned to keep it that way. i’d need every ounce of strength i had if things got wild– you never know, i might have to spring into action & commandeer the bus like sandra bullock in that movie speed. plus, i’ve seen the poseidon adventure & titanic.

this was when i began checking out everyone sitting in front of me- nonchalantly, you understand. we’d become a group now– a little family. the 30ish woman with the braided ponytail & ball cap who never got off her iPhone. her snuggly boyfriend whose bald spot she stroked intimately with her free hand. the white-haired older woman with skin like powdered vanilla. i squinted to read the words tattooed down her arm– “jesus loves you, but he loves me best.”

i couldn’t help watching one man in particular. i’d noticed him when we were standing on the sidewalk. you could tell just by looking @ him that he was a high school basketball coach with his broad shoulders & striped, collared t-shirt tucked neatly into his dress slacks– that & the fact that he kept mentioning it in a crisp voice. i thought he was just being helpful before, & i’m sure he was, but now he was asserting himself as the alpha dog– our self-appointed dad.

i could see mr. pepperoni to my right bristle when the man looked from face to face, assuring everyone that the bus should make it in time for us to catch our flight & to remain calm. then, mr. pepperoni said loudly, “i’ve been in this identical situation plenty of times before.”

when not one person acknowledged him, his eyes darted in my direction, begging me to say something– to please back him up & help him be daddy, as if we were forming alliances like on that old tv show survivor.

“can’t help you, bud,” my silence told him. “because if things get wild, ain’t nobody gonna be daddy but me.”

but, i’m not competitive– that’s what i told you, right?

it doesn’t come naturally, i’m not going to lie– but if the situation calls for it, i’ll kick ass.

it’s one of those things that comes with putting yourself out there. i’ll never make it with this book promotion thing, otherwise.

what writers have to do is completely contrary to their nature. think about it– writing is a solitary, holed-up, keep-to-yourself endeavor. then your book’s published, & you have to actually tell people what it’s about? book signings? okay, try this one– reading passages out loud? like in front of real-live people?

egads.

but, crap– what else are you supposed to do? hide on the back row?

trust me, it’s crossed my mind.

you would’ve been really proud of me. @ my book launch, i got up in front of tons of people & read a whole chapter. i promise, it was a really short chapter. nobody likes an insufferable bore– you know the type– but i did it, & you know what? it wasn’t fatal.

here’s another one– are you ready for this? i went on TV. got interviewed on this news show. me? seriously?

it’s not how i want to spend every afternoon, & i’m not saying i was awesome, & no one else did either. there were a couple of cringe-worthy moments, plus the news anchor said i should’ve worn darker lipstick… but, hey– i did it, & like i said– it wasn’t fatal.

tell you the truth, i learned a lot from the book i wrote. i made the heroine do tons of stuff she didn’t want to do, so what type of hypocrite would i be, lounging on the back row 24-7 ?

i’m not perfect, & i still like it there for sure, but, everyday’s ass-kicking time, don’t you think?

’cause daddy’s home.

TTFN

love letter

love letter

here’s what an old friend said when i asked if they’d be attending our 25-year class reunion.

“if I wanted to see any of those people, i’d be doing it already, so why spoil it now?”

what a snotty comment to make, i thought to myself. well, okay – it’s not like i’m exactly going to be nominated for the dali lama award either, because with regard to a few choice people, i understood completely what this friend was talking about…

but, may i also mention that this friend is also a “facebook holdout?”

so, what’s THAT about?

part of the reason… well, let’s be honest — i wasn’t especially clamoring for a seat on the facebook bandwagon myself.

i remember the 1st time i heard about it.

“so, it’s this awesome connectivity website.” someone told me with breathless excitement, “where you put pictures & stuff on there about yourself!!!!”

“are you crazy?” i said. “i don’t want people knowing all my personal crap, & i SURE don’t want them looking @ my picture!”

& i wasn’t just talking about sexual deviants & serial killers — the whole “peeping tom” aspect in general bugged me. what i looked like, what i was up to, & what my personal views were on any given subject, not to mention my DOB was frankly, nobody’s stinking business. when people kept nudging me, i’d smile pleasantly & say, “yeah, yeah, i’ll get around to it.”

like never.

then, someone said one day, “hey, i saw your facebook page.”

“whatttttt??? that’s impossible. i didn’t put anything on there!”

“well, i guess someone did it for you,” they said.

& the picture looked nothing like me at all….

mystery man

a disgruntled member of this new facebook club, i’d shake my head at the people who’d post every time they went to the bathroom. are these people that bored, i thought, or what? seemed like every photo was either someone’s stupid cat, a unicorn or a rainbow. assorted inspirational drivel & the occasional rant about obama or quote from ann richards. took me about a year to give my 1st

like thumb

i’ve never exactly been a wallflower, so i finally decided to be a sport & shifted from voyeur to actual comment-er. messaged with cool people i hadn’t talked to in forever, but my “presence” wasn’t especially heavy-duty.

then, something strange happened.

a sweet old friend from high school who was kind of one of those bathroom-posters, well, her little grandson came early – super early. a very preemie-preemie in a life-or-death situation. everyone was riveted, watching picture after picture of the tiny little guy with an oxygen tube & IV’s sticking out of him. every one of her updates had over a hundred likes & comments. she asked for prayers & she got them. from all of us. even when i wasn’t online, i would think about them; i really came to adore him, & her, too.

& i realized something. this tiny little guy was a connector. he brought all of these people together toward a common goal. it was phenomenal, really. it truly was. & you know what? he got better. photo-by-photo, day-by-day, but he did, & now my friend’s posts are of him playing with a huge, belly-laugh-smile on his face. & he’s just so damn cute. had all of these people’s prayers worked?

yes.

& as he got better, i felt like i did, too. everybody did.

the power of facebook

& the power of love.

so, that’s why I’m writing this LOVE LETTER.

it’s a love letter to facebook, definitely, but it’s also a love letter to all of my old & dear friends who’ve welcomed me back into their lives.

i’m just so grateful for all the love & support you’ve given me.

in case you’re reading this, thank you. really & truly, thank you.

see you tomorrow on facebook, i hope.

i wouldn’t miss it.

TTFN

hey, forest – give me a piece of chocolate

hey, forest – give me a piece of chocolate

do you ever feel like you’re in the right place @ the right time? like kind of strangely in the right place @ the right time? i do, & lately, it’s been happening a lot because i’ve begun doing things differently. mama’s got a brand new bag.

it’s not a big deal. nothing more than following the things that are put in front of me — no stopping to question them or falling into familiar analyze-mode. being in the moment is the key, really. with non-resistance. when you start trying, when you start thinking, that’s when it becomes hard.

don’t think? that’s a new one, isn’t it? then, how will you figure out what to do? that’s the point. there is no figuring out. it’s easy. be open to new things, old things – it’s not important. just follow what’s in front of you.

i’ll say it again: in the moment. no thinking, with non-resistance.

the cool thing is that it moves you out of your comfort zone. maybe i should tell you what mine feels like — it’s super soft & cuddly, like a warm, snuggly bed that i really, really, really don’t want to get out of. but this new way of doing things, that cozy comfort zone, wiggly stage fright or whatever else you want to call it becomes rearview-mirror.

this leads to that, that leads to this — just follow the bread crumbs & next thing you know… the right place @ the right time.

you have arrived.

&, now here’s a nifty little treat in the box — you find yourself looking at things in a different way because there’s an exciting new orbit you’re operating in. & i truly hate dull, don’t you?

i understand your reservations — i get it, because it does take a little practice. here’s a little tip to help you know what to follow. it’s usually so damn obvious you could trip over it, but have you ever gotten the same message more than once? as if everyone seems to be saying the same thing, until it’s practically being screamed in your ear with a megaphone? that’s a good indication.

sometimes, it’s just plain, old gut-instinct. just be aware.

no thinking. in the moment with non-resistance.

you’ll know.

TTFN

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