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Monday, May 31, 2010

Today it's my birthday...

Contemplations 40x40

With many thanks to the Facebook friends who responded to my request for 40 words.

Moments I find peace; my son takes my hand as we are walking, my daughter leans her head against me as we snuggle on the couch, my husband touches my cheek with his hand as we drift off to sleep.

When my heart and soul need a pick-me-up, I buy whole milk. I like it best straight from the bottle, or in a mug right sized to dip an Oreo cookie, or poured over a bowl of crushed graham crackers.

My cousins down the road got a satellite dish, a huge backyard ornament. We spent a summer watching horror movies; Psycho, Amityville Horror, and Friday the 13th. Walking home in the dark was never more terrifying. I’ve not recovered yet.

It was just a high school graduation party, thrown for two of my closest friends. I was on my way the hell out of Dodge, quite literally. He was just another guy. I wasn’t looking for love. It was serendipity.

I claim to go to the gym for cardio conditioning, but it’s an excuse to read for extended blocks of time without the distractions of dirty dishes or laundry. I never gain speed; it jumbles the words on the pages.

My mother would have said that every life is full of blessings. Choose to see and appreciate them and you’ll find them even where you least expect. Choose to focus on what you lack and contentment will always be scarce.

Grandma served me grits; they sat yellow and untouched in my bowl. I thought to improve them with spoonfuls of sugar, but they remained inedible. I also slept beneath her yellow bedspread and read mysteries from her Ellery Queen collection.

My friend is nicknamed, Duckie. My tongue sometimes stumbles between her given name and nickname. If I were to suffer from anatidaephobia, I don’t imagine my condition would extend to fear of being watched by Duckie, but anything is possible.

Gold bangles chime as a hand pushes long, gypsy black hair from blue eyes. Dangle earrings reflect the sun’s rays and catch passerby’s eye. You don’t recognize the woman in the flowing turquoise skirt and scarves because I am incognito.

My father gave up fields of corn and wheat for a job that paid overtime in town, but he continued to expand his garden yearly. I longed to run the tiller, but my crooked rows were proof of my distractibility.

From my perch on the hammock, I watched the path of a single raindrop as it traveled down the ivy vine which grows up the old pear tree beside my house. Make note to spend more time there simply being.

My marriage looks more traditional than anything I ever expected to be a part of when I was young, yet the reality is far more equitable than I ever imagined a partnership between a man and a woman could be.

I wanted to embrace feminism, but wasn’t 100% onboard with its take on masculinism, so decided that individualism was the best ‘ism for me. I most respect the passionate, thinking person who acts out of reason, even when I disagree.

Once upon a time, doing laundry was like date night; staring at one another across the machines at the launder mat and bumping shoulders at the folding table as we laughed at jokes and dreamed up plans for our future.

I find that a line of busy ants can still mesmerize me. My grandpa’s driveway was filled with mounds of big, red fire ants. I spent hours constructing barriers or dropping cracker crumbs to see how much they could carry.

I enjoyed fishing trips with Grandpa. He wore pinstripe overalls and wild, patterned hats. He gave me a brown tackle box for my seventh birthday. I saved it under my bed for years. I didn’t want to get it dirty.

My chosen path may not prove lucrative in a manner that will fill my wallet, but everyday richness and abundance of experience far outweighs cold hard dimes and nickels and paper bills. Wealth is a matter of attitude and appreciation.

I always assumed Blue was a boy and Magenta was a girl. My kids informed me, many years after we stopped watching the show, Blues Clues, that I was misinformed. They were both girls. I guess my sexism was showing.

I am finding mukluks difficult to relate to my life. My current boots are made of rubber. They are lined, knee high, and were purchased when we were raising pigs. I once enjoyed a hand-me-down pair of dressy cowboy boots.

Once my mind was opened to the possibilities of unschooling, I was convinced. The evidence was ubiquitous. I began to see connections everywhere; undeniable proof that the true nature of learning had been lost in our society’s approach to education.

At 25, I made a conscious decision to choose family over career. Eventually I realized that the choice did not negate a professional path, only led me to eventualities that more clearly fit my personality and fully complemented my worldview.

Once upon a time, I only ate cereal for breakfast. Cheerios was choice, per mom, because it didn’t have great gobs of sugar. In my twenties I enjoyed Froot Loops and Captain Crunch. Now I am a serial oatmeal eater.

I’ve never worn a real muumuu, but I have an enormous, brightly colored scarf that I’ve wrapped around a swimsuit as a skirt. If you know me well, you might imagine blues or greens. It’s actually many shades of pink.

In fact, I often prefer the connection I make with people online. It tends to feel more honest, more whole in thought and purpose. It relies less on physical appearance, which can be deceptive and distracting to a worthy friendship.

My aunt used to hold my hand and whisper with me in church. She made long services tolerable. I looked forward to our weekly visits despite any frowns or looks we may have gotten from other adults in the congregation.

I used to wish I was somebody special; a girl with red hair, a wonderful pianist, an athlete with extreme talent. Finally I understand just being somebody who is kind and sincere is as special as I need to be.

On days I find myself without gumption, I try to tell myself it is my mind’s way of reminding me to slow down, take a moment, and appreciate the here and now. There is a balance between striving and being.

Awesome is one of my kids’ favorite words. Not, “That’s awesome!” the way the word was used when I was a kid, but, “Be awesome!” A command never to be forgotten. It’s on their daily list of things to do.

If you are wondering about the point of this exercise, I dreamed it up in the middle of a restless night, a creative endeavor to keep me from dwelling on the forty candles that would be on my birthday cake.

One of my life-long struggles which I have not overcome to my satisfaction is caring, more than is sometimes good for my mental health, about what other people think of me or what they might be saying behind my back.

I love books; I love the smell of ink on paper, the way the pages feel between my fingertips, and the way the words can take my mind to far off places or make connections in new and startling ways.

My hypothesis; if we lived in a world where people didn’t feel compelled to talk about their religion or politics, if those things were kept secret like the color of one’s underwear, our earth would be full of more friends.

I make mocha chocolate chip cheesecake for special occasions, once or twice a year. I cut the recipe out of a magazine back in college. I call it evil, but it’s evil in a wonderful way, much like deviled eggs.

I have always saved notes and letters from people. I think for many, words committed to paper are more heartfelt than those spoken aloud, perhaps because we have time to think them over, revise them, make them come out right.

If I could live one portion of my life over again, I’d go back and show my mother more gratitude and respect, starting early, spanning that period when I was so sure she was everything I didn’t want to be.

My reflection in the mirror often takes me by surprise. I don’t expect to see this woman who resembles my mother, complexion no longer smooth, eyes no longer full of innocence and belief that anything I can dream is possible.

I wasn’t a big fan of watermelons when I was young, but I loved what they represented; hot summer days swimming in the stock tank with cousins and spitting seeds at the dusty drive at the end of the sidewalk.

When I turn to polyandry, my second husband will be selected for his house renovating skills, my third for his love of cooking wholesome and organic meals, and my fourth, a master masseuse, for his superior skills in foot rubbing.

I know I have been accused of being taciturn more than a time or two, but my gregarious nature comes through more clearly once I’ve had the time to observe my surroundings and know those I want to interact with.

If in conversation, you suspect I prevaricate, it is most likely that I am simply trying to be polite. In such cases, truth might not be what you want to hear and it’s probably best to just let it slide.

1 comment:

LoryKC said...

Happy belated birthday!