Regrets

Photo Regret

I picture them as microscopic annoyances with arms and legs. Their sardonic grin and facial features make you wonder if they are any relation to the Grinch. In military formation, they strive to locate access to any route possible in order to achieve their goal; to get under your skin. You’d be better off having thousands of these invaders with endless time on their hands tackle you on pogo sticks than what you are feeling right now. It’s an endless loop of what ifs, how comes and whys that relentlessly keep poking at you.

Now that they have you where they want you, they regroup and continue their campaign. This is the clandestine location that you do not want them to invade at any cost; inside your head. Once they make camp there, you are prisoner to a persistent voice that repeats a mantra that is able to continue regardless of time and location. If you’ve ever pressed your tongue against a sore tooth repeatedly, even though you know it will be hurt, you know that feeling of not being able to let go. This is it.

According to Psychology Today: “…Studies have shown that regret is the most common emotion people mention as part of their daily lives. Fortunately, rewriting history in our heads, rather than playing the cards in our hands can also have some positive aspects to it. Using past mistakes as a growth opportunity, analyzing whether or not it was our fault and consoling ourselves that it could have been worse will train us to regret less and better…”

In time, you realize that you are your own Commander and you begin to feel a sense of power. You can rise up and counterattack, casting out all those regrets the same way they came in. Now engaged, your mind has outmaneuvered your remorse.

As Henry David Thoreau advised: “…Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” To live afresh is to be morally born again…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Considering the Avant-garde

Photo Avante garde

It was 3 a.m. and I was sitting up in bed eating a banana when Mr. Wiz* returned from the bathroom. “…What are you doing?..” he asked with concern. “…Just something for personal reasons…” I responded, as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. He knew, from previous experience, not to question any of my more unusual habits and decided it was in his best interest to just go back to sleep.

Between you and me, a banana is an almost immediate cure for heartburn. That or one-half teaspoon of mustard. I have more where that came from. The day I purchased a book about folk remedies was the day that my family sensed a shift in the usually well-hidden, quirky side of my personality.

They see it as a blending of natural medicine, folk remedies and old wive’s tales in a big witch’s caldron until it begins to ooze out of the top and engulf anyone brave enough to still be in its path. But, then I remind them about eating an apple a day or a bowl of chicken soup when ill and they are pacified…for the moment.

In the spirit of keeping Austin weird (the city’s slogan), since moving here, I pride myself on keeping up my polka dot collection, my oddities collection and now I find that I am also becoming the keeper of the more unusual potions, elixirs and remedies that I have come across.

Currently, I am singlehandedly taking on the cosmetic industry with a campaign to experiment with some do it yourself, at home remedies as part of my beauty regimen. Without frightening Mr. Wiz (who, I’m sure, is curious as to just what is taking place behind that closed bathroom door), let’s just say that apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil are not just for salads anymore, Moroccan Argan oil has other uses than as a dip for bread and facial exercises are the new face lifts. I’ve said too much, but you get the idea.

Little by little, I seem to be winning over my family as they hint for a possible solution to a current malady they are experiencing. Recent suggestions have taken toothpaste, Greek yogurt and duct tape out of their respective comfort zones and into an unknown realm.

Who knows? If we can naturally eradicate those little ailments that get under our skin, it might just remind us to occasionally try thinking out of the box and consider the unconventional alternative.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Celebrating Mom, Moxie and Mother’s Day

Photo My Moxie Mom

When she was just 9 years old, she would awaken on her own, early Sunday mornings, dress in her best dress, grab the coins off the kitchen table that her mother had left for her and set out. Sometimes she would hop on 1 foot, hopscotch or skip all the way there. She’d attend church on her own and then stop at the local bakery to buy some buns for the family. The wonderful smell would propel her home and she’d run all the way, hoping to arrive while they were still warm and looking forward to the first bite and the jelly oozing down her chin.

One of the things that I love about JC* is her independent spirit. All her life, she’s never let the fact that she might have to venture out into the world solo stop her. It’s that sparkle in her eyes and that spring in her step that you first notice. This is probably the reason why the Austin bus drivers greet her by name as she boards and why she was selected out of the audience to be a part of the show at a Blue Man Group performance. When traveling alone on a group tour, she will tell you that at meal time, she first peruses the dining room and chooses the table with the most people laughing. This has led to wonderful friendships with women as far away as Australia.

Arm in arm with curiosity and spunk, she confidently heads into the unknown, the more unfamiliar, the better. She’s fun to be with and whether we are shopping for just the right earrings or exploring someplace new that she has discovered, she has the uncanny ability to make even the smallest experience exciting.

Her energy amazes me. It always makes me laugh when I ask her what she did on days that we aren’t together. She’ll start out by saying “…Not much…,” then rattle off a schedule that would warrant wheels being added to your daily planner. In recent years, thanks to her, I have mastered the flamenco, the Texas Two Step and line dancing. And just as I arrive home and am putting my dance shoes away, I can look forward to a text asking me if I want to join her on another adventure.

Her next foray is into the animal kingdom. She is now officially a volunteer at Austin Pets Alive. And while she is exerting her never-ending zest for life, there may be just enough time for me to take a nap before we’re off again together.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

Spring Cleaning: Body, Mind and Closet

Photo Spring Cleaning

Every year, we would fall back into the same poorly orchestrated routine. Excited to “spring ahead,” each of the four of us teens would turn the clock ahead one hour on our arrival home late Saturday night. This would result in chaos for the next couple of days. Someone would wind up at church either a few hours too early or too late and we were never sure if we were eating Sunday brunch or Sunday dinner. Usually by Tuesday our lives would return back from Somoan Standard Time. No one seemed to want to change this practice, so we chalked it up to organized confusion (another family tradition) and life went on.

To me, spring has always meant a new beginning and I celebrate its brightness, its warmer weather and the coming of Easter by planning to start fresh. As it did back then, the first daffodils remind me that it’s time to get started. I know that, once a year, I need to venture where no man has gone before; into the dark recesses of the place that houses the wardrobe from where my style initiates: my closet.

It always begins with me asking myself “…Who am I?..” This is the point in the process where I look deep down into myself and question what I want my new image to be. All those visions of fashion, style and design in my head overwhelm me and I have to sit down on my closet floor to ward off dizziness (note to self: next year, remember to bring some sustenance). Cross legged and looking up at the clothing sorted by Item, then color on their perfectly aligned hangers, I tell myself that I will not let its well-organized arrangement intimidate me.

I’m feeling stronger now and make the decision that I want to up my game and go for an edgier style this time around. Coming from someone who, for years, wore hose every day of the summer, handbags that matched her shoes and white only after Memorial Day, I realize that edgier is a relative term and that this will be my personal version of the jazzy, new me.

I rev myself up and become a lean, mean, methodical machine. Music helps the process; chances are good that I will not be hypnotized by the rhythmic sound of the hangers gliding across the closet rod and bypass some business outfits that should have been retired years ago while I am rocking my signature dance moves and singing at the top of my lungs.

The range of emotions that evolve as I try on every item always startles me. Some get torn back off immediately while I mumble “…What was I thinking?..” Some are accessorized with jewelry and shoes and then torn off (same mumble). Out of respect, some get their last moment in the limelight, as I gaze in the mirror and reminisce about a special event before tearing them off too. I take a moment to pay homage to those articles that have withstood the test of time. I can depend on them to always give me the classic look I am going for.

I’ve lost track of time. I look around and I’m awe-struck to see all the shopping bags around me stuffed with the clothing that once held a prominent position as part of my wardrobe. At this point, I need to proceed with caution. This scenario can play out in two ways: I can either run the bags to the trunk of my car and drive directly to my choice of donation centers or I can decide that I might have missed some great Halloween costume options and decide to peruse each bag’s contents.

Seeking fortitude from closet lessons of the past, a light and airy sensation comes to mind. This leads to a feeling of confidence that I will now leave my home always feeling like a “ten”, having just delivered all my “1-9’s” to a better place. I rationalize that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Someone else’s personal statement might be made up of my fashion faux pas mixed with just the right amount of their panache.

My stomach is growling and I notice that it’s almost nightfall. I exit my closet a different person from when I entered it earlier that day. This yearly cathartic exercise in re-evaluating and letting go gets me off to another terrific start. It serves to remind me that it’s a beneficial practice to maintain, whether it involves apparel or any other parts of my life that may need a little tailoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of Our Soul Tribe

Photo Soul Tribe

In high school, we were the mighty 13. Our claim to fame were the dance numbers we would create. “West Side Story’s” “Gee, Officer Krupke” won us first prize at the school talent show. I remember, fondly, one rainy Saturday afternoon, when all 12 gathered in my basement to help me prepare oak tag signs for my bid for class President and then returned the next week to console me when I wasn’t elected.

Back then, my best friend and I decided to create code names using our initials to ward off any security breaches as we passed notes back and forth; hers was Ellen (L.N.), mine was Elsie (L.C.). When we needed to see each other to share the ups and downs of teenage girlhood, we would call each other and say “…Meet S.S…,” then both run to our secret spot and find the other sitting in the branches of the old gnarled tree we both always loved.

How did we all lose touch? Sometimes I wonder why all those experiences and memories didn’t do a better job of cementing us together. I admire those people that have kept up with everyone that has ever touched their lives. I wish I was one of them, but then I am reminded that it does take two to tango. While the idealist in me hates to let people go, the logical side says three strikes, you’re out; the gentler side of that meaning is that after three times, the pattern will deliver its own message.

It is said that you become the company you keep and in the broader sense I can see that. Socializing with vibrant, positive thinkers, will most likely, ignite those passions within you. But, let’s not forget about the yin and yang; contrasting personalities can fortify and compliment who we are and take us places we would never have dreamed of going alone. A symbiotic relationship packs the one-two punch of inspiration plus confidence and reminds us that there is strength in numbers.

Acquaintance, friend, pal, soul mate; at any given time in our lives, I see now that we tend to acquire just what we need. Did you ever meet someone by chance and just know that they were meant to be a part of your life? That spark that instantaneous bond can transform a stranger into a kindred spirit. Were you ever surprised that a rekindled friendship would start back up right where it left off without missing a beat?

Be open to those around you; you never know who fate might link you to. Be receptive and get to know people different from yourself. Be bold (even if it means going it alone) and step into new experiences. Be the one who can say to themselves “…I’ve made the most of every opportunity that came my way…” Somewhere between want and need, the perfect connections will arise.

All those years ago, I would never have imagined that, in time, those strong bonds of friendship would all but vanish. Maybe they were making way for new relationships that needed to be cultivated, new adventures that would lead to chance encounters. Maybe it was the universe’s way of reminding me that as one door closes, another opens.

Being a part of a community, something bigger than ourselves, and delighting in that camaraderie is what it’s all about. Those special relationships bring to mind a prayer that St. Francis of Assisi wrote over 700 years ago when he reminds us “…to be understood as to understand, to be consoled as to console, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive…”

We’re never sure how all the pieces fit together; how people from different walks of life, whom we meet at different times and places just seem to complete our puzzle. It’s that strong esprit de corps that fortifies us, motivates us to continue our journey and keeps us on the lookout for new members of our soul tribe.

 

 

 

 

 

Auditory Illusions     

Photo Auditory Illusion

She was a well-dressed, middle age woman and when she smiled and leaned in to speak to me, I was taken off guard. “…I like your boobs…” she said. Never wanting to appear impolite, I remember responding with a very faint “…Thank you…” It wasn’t until the conversation continued that I realized she had actually said “…I like your boots…”

This has happened to me more than once. In grammar school, I proudly sang the national anthem at the top of my lungs each morning. I was absolutely crushed to hear that Josė, who I had imagined to be a new U.S. citizen, was really not being sung to at all. I still like my words better: “…Josė, does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”

While scientists label it an auditory illusion (a sound trick similar to an optical illusion), I’m pretty sure it’s just the comedic side of my brain having a little fun at my expense. Studies have actually shown that the brain does in fact have a funny bone. It’s located near the right frontal lobe just above the right eye. I instead picture hundreds of miniature comedians impatiently awaiting their turn to audition and deliver one liners.

Years ago, when Mr. Wiz* and I were discussing our wedding, we were in a quandary as to what to do. Having both been married before and now owning a business together, the guest list was increasing with each mention of the subject. A leisurely Sunday brunch at our favorite restaurant seemed like a good time to broach the subject. Our quick banter soon became heated. When his fruit appetizer appeared, it gave him the idea to try and diffuse the situation by uttering that old pun. “…Cantaloupe? … he said, grinning.

What he did not know at the time, was that I was probably one of the few people to not be in on that joke. I understood him to say “…Can’t elope….” After that, Mr. Wiz says all he can remember is me jumping up, kissing him and thanking him for wanting a wedding. He was still dazed, as the event took on a life of its own and wedding plans were in full swing by that afternoon.

Neurologically speaking, my system becomes nervous at the thought of those sound waves traveling from my ear canal to my ear drum. I only hope that my concentration levels are at a heightened state, so that those vibrations transmitted to my brain become words that I can live by or laugh at.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom Mental Telepathy

Photo Mom Mental TelepathyAs part of my polka dot collection, (which is unfortunately quite meager due to my lack of success in polka dot item location tactics), I have a photo of Big A* in a polka dot frame. Every morning, all my advice comes spilling out to the photo of his smiling face with no interruptions; a mother’s dream. I wouldn’t dare share this with him directly. These are the things that would make for less mother/son phone calls. I am content to utilize mom mental telepathy.

Mr. Wiz* is my witness. Time after time, he has overheard my mother/frame conversations and then was stunned when a conversation with Big A revealed my thoughts/suggestions almost verbatim. I wonder if Mr. Wiz ever fears that he will awake one morning to see the kitchen crowded with smiling photos of him, along with family and friends, all framed in dots of polka, unaware that they will be telepathically transported to my realm.

There’s no need to worry. As mothers well know, it’s mainly our children that we feel the need to guide, protect and nurture, whether they want it or need it. Sure, you might get away with a few quick sprays of holy water as they exit your home, but they’ll catch on sooner or later. Telepathy offers you the ability to dial in at any time, speak your peace, then hang up with the same speed that you would when a telemarketer calls.

Studies have proven that you can exercise your telepathic ability. Have you ever thought of someone and then been surprised that they’ve suddenly contacted you? Has a premonition come true more than once? When I was in high school, I would telepathically zero in on my boyfriend. The next day, he would say how he couldn’t get me out of his mind and kept driving by my house, wondering where I was. In this particular case, I used advanced telepathy. By intermingling it with an observation and parking my car around the corner, I was able to create havoc in my boyfriend’s brain (caution: due to the brain cell circuitry of a teenage boy, proper training is recommended before embarking on this course of action).

I’ve passed my practice on to a few moms lately and they have all thanked me for such a noninvasive way to be invasive. Mom mental telepathy is the new helicopter parent without the blades. It’s a voodoo doll without the “voo” and the doll. It’s just a way to help persuade your child to “doo.” So, use your powers wisely, use them for good and above all else; be careful not to let your mom in on it.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Postscript:
Contrary to recent rumors, I do not hold a doctorate in the field of polka dotology. However, I do independent research in my spare time on the subject and am intrigued by its history. According to Wikipedia, the dot part comes from the Old English word “dott”, which means speck. It’s the polka that is a mystery to historians. Did it come from the dance craze that took Europe by storm in the 1800s? Did polka dancers wear dotted costumes?  No one can say for sure and the polka dot continues to baffle us as it creates its special spot in history.