Copy that., Grief is Grief, View from the Shoe

Refill, anyone?

HELLO . . . I’m __________.

Imagine those cheery little ID stickers with descriptors like “Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty Person” after our names. We’d be instantly busted as relentlessly cheerful or obsessively pessimistic. Awkward. Those who wander through life under a persistent gray cloud might be predisposed to resent endlessly cheery types. And the perennial blue-sky humans would really be unhappy if gloom ‘n doomers rained on their parade.

Me? I’m a happy/not-always-happy hybrid, and I suspect a lot of you can identify — depending on the day or period of life. Basically, I’m an optimist with varying shades of the ‘other shoe is gonna fall’ thrown in. (get it?)

“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which they were created.”  Einstein

Two people can see the same glass entirely differently. Though, given a choice, I’d choose half-full every time. Just because I hum Monte Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life”, doesn’t mean I have it nailed or that my glass is half-full of puppies and unicorns. Hey, I’m the girl, who came home, after an hour away, to find my husband dead, remember? That brand of lightening can really derail even the biggest optimist like a tsunami! But, whether you’re knee-capped by grief, have critical struggles with health or are broken, humbled or depressed by other stuff life throws at you, even a half empty glass can slowly be refilled.

Don’t feel like Pollyanna reincarnated? The reality is that pessimists stay stuck in the proverbial black cloud; optimists find the silver lining— eventually. Optimists are not always the happiest campers and pessimists aren’t consistently gloom and doom. On any given day, things can look positive or negative, good or bad. The best thing we can do is not to lounge around too long in the bottom of the glass. Continue reading “Refill, anyone?”

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View from the Shoe

Velveteen Human

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To love at all is to be vulnerable.   C.S. Lewis

From the time we emerge, wrinkled, red and screaming our heads off in the delivery room, we begin to grow. We bravely take first steps, say first words and train daily for life as a fully realized human. We get skinned knees, scrapes, spills and tears along the way to all the good stuff and then we realize – it might not be all good stuff.

Pinocchio got a crash course in what it means to be ‘real’ when he became a human boy. Suddenly, he had all the best and worst of being real.  He also had to choose not to lie, not only to everyone else, but also to himself. We’re all a little like that wooden boy.  As we grow, we learn to embrace true selves including all the splintered, broken pieces because it’s in those pieces we learn to be kind, genuinely, and sincerely kind. We learn to say what we mean and mean what we say, trying not to hurt others but empower them. We learn, we learn, we learn. . . if we’re lucky, if we’re aware, we become ‘real’.

Part of being real is being authentic, broken parts and all. It can be really tough to dive deep inside ourselves for our truest feelings but those are the only ones that count. We all get broken in different ways in this thing we call life and need to be mindful of what we experience to stay connected to ourselves. Maybe we could take a page from The Velveteen Rabbit’s playbook; as plush toys go, those guys were pretty evolved. “You become. It takes a long time.” the Skin Horse explained to the Velveteen Rabbit. Real “doesn’t happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept.”
Continue reading “Velveteen Human”

Grief is Grief

Live the Dash

DASHBorn. Died. He was here – and then he wasn’t. For every name in the cemetery, what separates the dates of birth and death — is a dash, a line that connects all the living in between. A dash not only separates a whole bunch of years but also connects all we were meant to be. At least that’s what we hope for anyway.

A dash says ‘you were here’. You toddle around in diapers, go to school, run headlong into becoming an adult. And then what?  Dates of graduation, wedding, children born are markers that all fall into the living. Jobs are listed on resumes, annotated with a succession of start and end dates. Even vacations are hyphenated periods of time we set aside to explore and relax.

How about marriage? The years spent with the person we marry carry their own dash. Sometimes they stretch far into the horizon; other times years can only be the length of an eyelash. However long or short, the dash attaches pieces of our all parts of our lives. Fortunately, even though my husband and I didn’t get much mileage out of the dash that strung our marriage years together, we had a small but pretty cool chunk of the ‘before’. Now the dash is in my court.  And, at the moment, I can’t predict what it will say about me. Continue reading “Live the Dash”

Copy that.

Beyond Words

WORDSYour memoir – in six words. What a concept! When I read “Not Quite What I Was Planning” a few years ago, I thought it was genius. The clever little nuggets spilling from that book were profound, odd, funny and powerful. I knew that those who wrote them, both famous and not-so-famous, were really onto something. Just imagine, an entire life compressed in succinct 6-word verbiage. I began to think of everything in the smallest set of words possible. Waiting on the phone through 10 degrees of voicemail, or sitting in traffic, I thought of everything in 6 word increments.

Condensing words to a powerful, precious few is hardly new. Centuries ago, Confucius, said, “One joy dispels a hundred cares” and people through the ages recognized that verbosity isn’t a requisite for memorable statements. As a copywriter, I’m used to compacting messages. I can stuff ten pounds of thought into a clever five-pound bag and transform a stiff company mission statement into a sharp tagline. But reading this book gave the process a whole new meaning. While more than a few of the ingenious memoirs made me laugh out loud, I realized that they were also terrific creative self-analysis. Super cool. Continue reading “Beyond Words”

Grief is Grief

Thanks…for the memories

memory_box-800x533-jpg-pagespeed-ce-udtj0ynkc8“Sometimes,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”

Ah, the little things. The memories that are tucked up in your brain just waiting to sneak out at the smallest moments. People say the best thing about memories is making them; the next is remembering them. These days, it’s not always easy.  In fact, sometimes even a little remembrance can knock the wind out of me. Memory lane might be the hardest road to travel, even when it’s only to the grocery store.

I may have forgotten to mention that I hate grocery shopping.  But I have to eat so I ran to pick up a few things yesterday and as I was mindlessly sliding my credit card, a picture flashed in my mind. It was an image of my husband always whipping out his card before my hand even opened in my purse. I don’t know why – it all came out of the same account, but it was just a habit like so many others. Caught in that silly reverie, I almost missed the elderly man in front of me teasing his equally elderly wife, winking at me as he did, about her always needing ‘one more thing’ and keeping him waiting. As the two exchanged good-natured comments, I remembered joking with my husband that ‘one day we’ll be them’. them’.

That would be a no. Continue reading “Thanks…for the memories”

View from the Shoe

It is . . . what it is.

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I took this photo on the balcony of a cruise ship bound for Bermuda. That trip was not only our first cruise (courtesy of a travel writing gig) but the only time since our honeymoon we actually had an entire week away together. As I sat outside our room, in the wee hours of the morning, I remember feeling completely at peace, awash in the serenity that a magical sunrise over a eternal ocean can bring. It was a moment of bliss that would come back to my mind many times after my world was split in half less than two years later.

I’ve never asked ‘why me’ about anything. Maybe I believe in karma, the capriciousness of the universe or just, hey, that who am I in this galaxy’s scheme of things? With all the horrendous things that happen every day in this world, how could I possibly think I was singled out for anything? Like it or not, stuff happens in this life without our permission.

When I was 26, my younger brother died suddenly of leukemia. He was 3 weeks shy of 20 years old and even his doctors were shocked. His death brought an unexpected tsunami of pain and disbelief that rocked my and my siblings world. It nearly destroyed my parents. Continue reading “It is . . . what it is.”

Grief is Grief

Life ISN’T a Box of Chocolates . . .

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Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, “Why me?” Then a voice answers, “Nothing personal . . . your name just happened to come up.”     Charlie Brown

Life just IS. At times, it can be sweet, surprising (the good kind) and rewarding. Other times, the sucky ones, we get gobsmacked with bitter taste or whopping sick from that 365 variety box of life. Unfortunately, it’s those we remember most. Yet, somehow, we still keep reaching for the next piece — and the next, always hoping for the one with the cherry surprise.

When we get married, we want the whole damn gift-wrapped box of chocolate – every sweet bite we can stuff in our faces. Sometimes, we could nearly eat our way through the whole box before finding the one we THOUGHT was gooey cream actually has the hard, chewy filling. And that one leaves a rotten aftertaste (or a broken crown!)

We got that hard, jaw-breaking piece before the wedding. A cancer diagnosis does that. Optimistic as always, we still decided to go for it, with the unreasonable trust of children. Some would call it naivete or supreme optimism. We just called it love. Continue reading “Life ISN’T a Box of Chocolates . . .”