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

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

#100dayshappy

#100dayshappy

as if I don’t do enough social media without taking this on, too. i saw a post on twitter. maybe it was twitter. either that or Google+. the person who posted about #100dayshappy was a total stranger, so it couldn’t have been facebook — you get in big trouble on there for trying to friend peeps you don’t know.

it’s not important how I know that.

so, anyway, this #100dayshappy is a thing — a challenge, really — that for 100 days, you’re supposed to post a photo of something that made you happy that day. doesn’t sound too hard, right? go on their site — 100 Days of Happiness Challenge, i think it’s called — not too hard to find. site says the #1 excuse people make for not taking the challenge is that it’ll take too much time. but who doesn’t have time to be HAPPY, they want to know?

well, i probably usually don’t. i mean, like hardly ever. well, maybe sometimes, that is if i’m not too busy on social media. hmmm-m. but perhaps this could actually HELP my social media situation. a “kill 2 birds,” type-thing. sounds great, i said…

i’m IN!

day #1

pushing my cart through the grocery store when i saw these. perfect, right? stop & smell the roses… i was off to a GREAT start.

0rose

day #2

cruising down the road with my 90-year-old aunt in san angelo, texas. not the kind of thing you see every day. or at least i don’t.

0jesus

day #3

driving to houston for a book signing. i never, & i mean NEVER go on a road trip – changing zip codes qualifies – without eating at least 4 of these. reason being, they make me happy.

0reece

day #4

i was thinking about taking the photos a lot. kind of freakishly, now. @ maudie’s, the tex-mex place around the corner from my house, people were beginning to whisper, why is that fruitcake taking a selfie of the trash can? i was beginning to wonder myself.

0q

day #5

maybe i was having more fun than i thought. seemed like i was going out to dinner a lot, anyway. i ate there 2 nights in a row.

0maud

day #6

wheeling into downtown austin past the iconic changeable letters sign @ el arroyo restaurant on 5th street. had to get this! go spurs!

0spurs

day #7

it had been a whole week now – i was really getting into it. come on -who couldn’t NOT snap a photo of this jaunty mannequin in the men’s department @ nordstrom’s?

0man

day #8

just when this new happiness thing was becoming a habit, i went & blew it. almost midnight & i had no photo for that day. i got lucky taking the dog outside to do her business…. this was on the porch. whew!

0frog

day #9

i have to admit, this one is kind of cheating. i got a Two-fer on Throwback Thursday on FB.

this is from my birthday party in 8th grade. yes, that’s me raising my hand in the middle.

0party

day #10

this is definitely cheating — this picture was already on my computer, but when you’re as busy as i am — well, there ain’t no shame in my game.

wonder woman

day #11

cheating again, but if you’re going to cheat, at least do a good job. Colbert approved!

& btw, i’m in love with Stephen Colbert

colbert nailed it

day #12

enough was enough. i had to get back on the program & have a real-live, non-computer photo.

but, hot damn – when i looked on amazon & saw my reviews for my novel Painting Juliana, it made me very happy, indeed. hell, YES it did! right on, sista!

00am

day #13

driving down south congress avenue i snapped this out my sunroof. my favorite view in all of austin. see the state capitol like a mirage at the end of the tunnel?

i’m back in the game.

capitol2

okay – look on the sidebar — i think that’s days #14 & 15.

see the cool vintage truck & the bright, shiny penny in my hand?

day #16

@ the dessert counter @ central market. yes – i ate 2 cupcakes. pink ones.

cupcakes

day #17

ewwwwww! it’s my brother’s NASTY pal from junior high school, randy loika.

i died laughing when i sent my brother the screen shot.

0loika

so, my friends. want to take the challenge with me? maybe this will help you decide…

& you can do your happy dance!

day #19

here’s the man, pharrell williams singing, “happy”

ttfn

the makeup artist

the makeup artist

a good friend of mine is one – a makeup artist. she’s got a resume long as your arm – movies, mini-series, politicians on tv, all of that cool stuff, & she knows dishy gossip galore … celebs tell you a lot while you’re an inch from their face, knowing that you’re in charge of whether they look hellish or heavenly in front of the camera & they better not piss you off.

anyway, maybe i’m weird, but it’s just that another meaning for the term “makeup artist” popped into my head when my friend & i were @ dinner last week.

wait a minute — you’re wanting to know if she’s done johnny depp, right? dunno. i’ll ask her & get back with you.

his makeup. get your mind out of the gutter.

so, anyway — i was thinking that, couldn’t a makeup artist be someone who’s realllly good at making up after a fight?

like, within my dysfunctional family of origin, here’s how it works. the only way you know someone’s mad at you is when you get the silent treatment. the quiet game. whatever you want to call it, the phone doesn’t ring.

until, one day…

hello?
that’s me.

how are you?
pretend that’s my sister.
chipper tone.
it’s been 3 months since we’ve spoken —
highly unusual because we talk all the time.

i’m good
me again.
neutral tone.
notice how I didn’t say something snarky like,
“oh, so we’re talking now?”
that would be poor form.

well, that’s good.
my sister again.
see how she doesn’t say, “i’ve been being a shit-turd,”
or, heaven forbid, “i was wrong?”

guess what?
still her.

you’re absolutely NOT gonna believe it.
it’s her breathless, secret-confidential-gossipy, voice.
the one i just love.

tell me.
hear the smile in my voice?
— it’s as if we simply set the phone down for a minute
& we’re picking up the same conversation we’ve had a million times before.
& my sister & i are buds again.

she’s the makeup artist.

& it’s kind of messed-up, don’t you think? but, that’s how it’s always been done. especially the part where there’s no, “i’m sorry.” but, maybe that’s okay. i mean, we were taught to never tell a lie. if george washington would’ve chopped down the cherry tree in our front yard, you wouldn’t want to be on the premises, trust me.

but, how about addressing the problem, talking things out — you know, like a constructive, grown-up conversation? oh, hell no! nowadays, parents say, “use your words,” which i find totally annoying & i want to pinch their ninny little heads off… but, you see, no one in my family is confrontational. what we had was more like a hit & run protocol. probably sounds strange, but then, maybe it doesn’t — you decide.

&, something else — in all these years, it’s always my sister who initiates these makeup calls. she’s kind of a hot-head, & i’m what you’d call the roll-over type, but you probably figured that out already, but here’s the thing — when we’re finally talking again, neither of us wants to spoil it. bringing up the reason we haven’t been talking opens the possibility of another 3-month silent period, so where’s the sense in that? besides, saying ugly words to each other is off limits — it’s our sister-code. ugly words, we reserve those for our mother. not the really bad ones we’d whisper to each other in our bathroom when we were growing up — i mean, come on — it’s kind of lousy to say things like that about a white-haired, 5-foot-tall octogenarian.

anyway, i’d like to say my sister calls when it finally gets to the point where she misses me more than she’s mad at me, which sounds all warm & fuzzy, but deep down, i know the true reason.

without me around, it’d be just her & our mom.

god, i love my sister.

you’re wondering something, aren’t you? who’s older? it might surprise you.

let’s see if you guess right in the comments below.

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