This is happy….

Our neighborhood is one of the favored locations to watch fireworks. So when we started walking 15 minutes before the fireworks were scheduled to begin, I wasn’t convinced we would find a decent viewing spot.

We reached the main drag and joined hundreds of others looking for the perfect overlook. The street looked like something from one of the many zombie movies popular today, only this group wasn’t the undead, they were very much alive, excited for the upcoming show and inebriated from an afternoon of celebrating Independence Day, weaving their way with their red solo cups, stopping to take group pictures, arms thrown around each-others necks, screaming endearments to one another.

I began to hunt for a break along the fence.

There is was. A spot. It was huge compared to the numbers deep on each side of it. I wondered if it was reserved, or forbidden, or the large leafy vegetation that bordered it was poison sumac. Regardless, my little entourage planted our flag.

As we stood, patiently waiting for the pyrotechnics to begin, I began to worry that everyone knew something we didn’t know — that this vantage point sucked. Not being Pittsburgh natives and not making the yearly patriotic trek to see the fireworks, I assumed we were missing something. I asked my compatriots, “Do you think we will be able to see them from here?”

They didn’t know either. But my question now lived in their minds too. Doubt, like fear, is often contagious.

Tom and Greg decided they would do some recognizance work and check out the bar-with-a-view just up the street. Several minutes later they returned. No luck. The bar was closed to a private party.

So this was it. We could leave and keep looking, but we may lose this spot. I have a rule in the grocery store check-out line or in the bank drive thru…never leave your line. Experience has proven that when I change lines/lanes, the original choice always moves faster.

Let it go Patricia,” I said to myself, “if you can’t see you can’t see. It’s not that bad.” I called on my spiritual training to let be was is.

And now, as if we were early pioneers, others had taken up camp with us. We were surrounded. This once empty stretch was currently 3 people deep.

The first flare went up. The crowd went silent.

It exploded.

RIGHT. SMACK. DAB. IN FRONT OF US! BOaiu1SCAAA3p-9.jpg-medium

It was like a private show. Just for us. I smiled to myself, “Will I ever learn?” All my worry and distrust for naught. We had the best view on the street. I relaxed and allowed myself to be enchanted by color, the drama, and the force of these rockets exploding before me.

As the finale crescendoed with thundering bursts of white cascades, I felt a childlike awe…like I was seeing something for the first time. My opened mouth smile was full bodied. Every cell was alive and captivated. I was enthralled. Totally.

Fireworks are a generous gift. A free treat. I don’t know how much they cost to display but I assume they are not cheap. I so appreciate the lavish offering that is still able to transfix me.

I loved feeling that happy.

I want to allow myself to be taken by the view more often.
waxseal2

 

 

 

Home Improvement Therapy

Lately I have been wanting all the home improvements projects done…yesterday. My mind wanders to my to-do list when I should be listening to how Tom’s day was or paying attention in traffic. I have become obsessed, or organized, I am not sure which. I  document my list in my phone’s reminder app. That way I have it handy at all times.

I have been taking pictures of outdoor lighting at Lowe’s, ceiling fans at Home Depot, ordering new exterior shutters — did you know that the size stated on the shutter is not the actual size of the shutter? The Lowe’s man calmly explained it is similar to a 2×4…they are not really 2″ by 4″ either. Who knew? And how is one to get the right size?

I have also been picking paint colors for different projects. I have even purchased my all-time favorite, a can of black spray paint. It is amazing what a little black spray paint can to to refresh worn stuff. I was tempted to give Tom a little squirt today, but thought better of it.

I am familiar with this pattern in myself. I become a DIY maniac when I don’t want to feel something going on in my life.

Landon’s wedding is 2 weeks away and instead of slowing down to feel the full impact of what that means to me, I am spray painting anything that is spray paintable.

The good news is stuff is getting done. The bad news is my back hurts and I don’t have shoes I can wear for longer than 10 minutes for the wedding. I need to be shoe shopping,  instead I am home improving.

I am fully aware I am sublimating, but I don’t really care. As the serenity prayer says, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I can’t change that I am old enough to have a son marrying. I also can not change that my son is old enough to be marrying. And I certainly can’t change that my mommying days are done. But I can sure as hell can change the color of the fireplace and update our mailbox!!

Here are my before and after pictures. If you like them I do work for hire…

the fireplace before

the fireplace before

 

and after I got through with it...

and after I got through with it…

 

Before a little black spray paint.

Before a little black spray paint.

and after!!

and after!!

I nested before Landon was born. Everything had to be in order and perfect for his arrival. Perhaps this is similar, but this time I am preparing my new nest for me.

Happy home improving to you,

 

waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

To speak or not to speak, that is the question…

Last night I told a friend that she had lost too much weight and wasn’t looking good. That her diet and exercise plan had gone too far.

Several years ago, after I had lost 25 pounds, a friend told me a similar thing. She said I was looking frail. I was as incredulous then as my friend was last night. She didn’t see herself as too thin. Neither did I.

I loved my size 6, flat stomach, easy to fit into any outfit, body. I felt sexy, powerful, in control. I did miss my boobs, however. I was never what you would call a well-endowed woman at my almost-B-cup-bra size, except for when I was pregnant and breastfeeding which doesn’t count because everything else was so big it was all proportional. But, in my minus 25-pound-stealth-self my girls had reduced to their adolescent AA bra size. I figured it was a small price to pay…no pun intended.

Saying the hard thing to a friend takes courage and love. It is a bittersweet gift to offer. When Trudy said it to me, I felt loved and trusted. She believed in me and in the solidity of our friendship to say the difficult truth.

So what do we not say?

And why don’t we say it?

Certainly I worry my loved one will be hurt, or mad, or reject me.

What I said last night came from a place of love and concern. There was no judgment or hidden agenda I was working out. When that is true, I feel safer saying the tough thing. When that is true it is also easier to hear the hard thing, as happened with Trudy. I felt no guile from her.

What I have learned, the hard way, is to keep my mouth shut when I feel I am harboring ulterior motives. That never goes well. The other person always seems to sense my duplicity. And as loudly as I may defend my honor, we both know the truth. My intentions were not honorable.

That is, perhaps, the question to be asked when choosing to speak or withhold. What are my motives? Am I speaking from a place of compassion and concern? I once read that it is our responsibility to speak from our hearts. That we cannot control how the other hears or receives what we say, but we should be sure where our message came from in ourselves.

I know I feel much better about myself, even if the other is hurt, when I am clear I meant no harm. That being said, I may still need to make amends despite my best intentions. It is my responsibility to do that also.

Saying the hard thing is an act of courage and love. It is also the true measure of a strong relationship.

I also told Tom last night that he couldn’t wear his plaid shorts and printed shirt, even if the blue’s matched. I did have ulterior motives, we both knew it, accepted it and laughed about it; concurring that at our age, mismatched hipster-dom simply looks like old age.
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, life got in the way…

This weekend was my sons and his future wife’s wedding shower. The love in the room was palpable.

On and off throughout Landon’s life I thought about the kind of woman I wished for him. My wishes have come true.

On and off throughout Landon’s life I thought about the man I hope he would be in a committed relationship. Yesterday I couldn’t have been prouder of him and how he loves.

So again, I am the luckiest mom alive!!

But as a result of all the festivities and details to attend to, I have no post for you today.

Life got in the way…in a great way!!

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

Remembering Dad on Memorial Day…

My dad was from Alabama. He loved the South. He longed to return there to live. My mom would not consider leaving her hometown in NJ to move south of the mason dixon line. She didn’t like dads poor relations living in tin-roofed houses that leaked in rain storms. Dad endured his exile, sometimes less gracefully than others.

He often bribed me with the promise to buy a horse if I persuaded mom to move. Frankly I think he would have moved without her, if I would have gone with him, but that is another story.

The bribe was enticing since I couldn’t own a horse in NJ because we lived on the wrong side of the street. At least that was what mom and dad told me. My girlfriend, who lived across the street, also couldn’t have a horse. I worried if I moved south with my dad, both sides of the street would be the wrong side.

We appeased dads homesickness by naming our family dog, an Irish Setter, Rebel. It seemed to do the trick. It also gave me unintended permission to develop my internal rebel self. I knew better than to present her to the family, but I have called on my rebel blood often in my adult life.

I was raised on grits, corn bread crumbled in butter milk and my dad’s stories of the magic of the south. The beauty of the land. The kindness of the people. When dad drank his vodka and tonic’s the South rose agin (Southern for again) to fight the Recent Unpleasantness (the Civil War). In his alcohol impaired rendition, the South won and confederate money became the nation’s currency.

When I met Tom, with his southern accent tamed by Yankee living for the past 30 years, I heard my dad. One day, early in our relationship, Tom said to me, “We’re in high cotton now!” I had not heard that expression for years. It made me feel strangely at home with him. The first time he fixed me grits with bacon grease I melted, and gained 2 pounds.

Tom’s Southern heritage makes him move slower-which sometimes makes me want to light a fire under his butt, speak slower, and hold his ground regardless of the current popular view. He calls this awhner (Southern for honor). I naturally resonate to this cadence.

So as we loaded the car to head south to visit his relations (Southern for family) my Southern blood began to bubble. I began to feel base. Sturdy. Thoughtfully certain. As we drove into Savannah, the moss skimming the top of the car, I am enchanted. As we crossed the bridge to the island I smelled the mud of the South and my body felt at home.

I wish he was still alive to tell him, “I get it!”

Love to Y’all

waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is it

When the parking lot at the Nuin Center was packed full, and street parking was at a minimum, I accurately deduced there was an event in the conference room.  As I made my way to the front door of the building I saw a sign directing people to The Living Peace Retreat, taught by Darma Teacher Chan Huy.

After saying my Good Mornings to co-workers standing around the front desk, I walked to the kitchen to deposit my egg salad into the frig. As I passed the conference room I noticed the participants shoes lined neatly against the walls of the hallway. They were all sizes and degrees of wear, but they were, mostly, comfy looking shoes. I saw no stilettos. I also noticed an alter was set up in the middle of the room. Brown robed monks sat quietly on the floor. Participants were also sitting quietly; some on chairs, others in lotus positions on the floor.

I know all this because the two sets of double doors were wide open. Typically, workshop leaders holding events in the conference room shut the doors. They post “Be Quiet” signs outside of the room letting non participants know they don’t want to be disturbed. The open doors piqued my curiousity. Hmmm, I wondered, “Why?”

I decided to answer my own question.  I made up the story that leaving the doors open was purposeful. I concluded it was to teach that we can’t close the world out, but that we must not allow the distractions of the world to interrupt our mindfulness. So as I rubber necked my way past the room, headed to the bathroom, I assumed I was helping  teach their point. My distracting presence gave them the opportunity to practice this lesson. Some looked up. Others did not.

Life is full of distraction. It is what you do with them that matters, I assumed…

On yet another trip past the sacred space, to retrieve my lunch, I noticed the group was eating their lunch in silence. I imagined myself sitting with them, eating in silence, chewing slowly, mindfully, tasting my food. I was thoroughly enjoying my fantasy until, in it, I forgetfully asked someone to please pass the salt. I immediately felt mortified with myself, even in my imagined scenario. I auto-corrected by concluding that my imagined table mates smiled warmly and silently handed me the salt.

Mistakes are a part of life. It is what you do with them that matters, I supposed…

IMG_0974I began to notice, midday, that I felt peaceful, that my movements were slower, that I had more grace in my body. Just being in the presence of such peaceful monks and the space they created had calmed me. I noticed a frame that had been hung above the registration table, It said, This is it. 

I exhaled, feeling instantly relieved. What if this is it? And, what if that is okay? I felt my hold on the future relax. My low grade tension of planning how-to-get-it-all-done eased.

On my last trip to the conference area for the day, to make my afternoon tea, I noticed one of the brown robed monks wearing wooden beads around his neck, sitting outside of the conference room. He was very engaged in texting or surfing the web on his cell phone. He didn’t look up, he wasn’t distracted by me. I wanted to laugh out loud as I watched his small, tedious movements, getting his man sized fingers to manipulate the small screen.

We are all so human. It is what you do with that reality that matters, I guessed…
waxseal2

 

 

I confess…

…after being called out on it…

…that  last weeks re-post of my first 2010 post was a lame attempt to seem engaged when Iimageswasn’t. It was also kindly brought to my attention that I was still celebrating my 100th post at post # 102.

Can’t blame a gal for trying…

So here’s the truth.

I confess…I had nothin’ to say. NOTHIN’.  I had paid attention all week to events that occurred and nothing captured my attention or  my heart. Nothing stirred me. So I wrote about going to dinner with another couple and how I didn’t enjoy myself. The spin I took in the 600 word masterpiece was how it was me I didn’t enjoy. Not them. I was astutely noticing that when I say, I didn’t enjoy myself, I often make it about the other, when it is really me that was being a poop. I spent 2 ½ hours Sunday morning, using my evolved hunt and peck typing skills to write this brilliant piece. At 2 hours and 45minutes I reread it and said, “Who gives a crap?”

I was tired of myself. I felt self absorbed and whiny. I was impersonating someone who had something of importance to say. Like I said earlier, I had nothing.

So I reposted.

Secondly, I confess…about a month ago I had a stalker. He contacted me through Facebook, snail mail, phone, Psychology Today and finally here, my precious blog, where I bare myself to you. Where I use names and places of my dear ones. Did you notice in the post, I just went for a salad and got a life lesson, I didn’t say what grocery store I was in? That was purposeful. I was scared. I didn’t want him knowing where I shop.

Since then he has been caught, reprimanded and has stopped contacting me. But, my hesitancy — about what this means to my blog and how should I proceed — has not been resolved inside of me. Perhaps I was naive to think I could put myself into the cyber world and not have something creepy happen. My sense of good will and safety has been shaken. Now, instead of thinking about each of you as I write, I have to push him out of my head.

My therapist reminded me how much I love to write. He also helped me to remember what this blog means to me. He encouraged me to persevere, to not to give up what I love out of fear. I love him.

Finally, I confess…I wonder if anyone out there is reading this? Some of you tell me how much you enjoy being Boswell — which very honestly keeps me writing, but as you can see there are no comments. I started bB to have conversation. Some of you may remember Conversation Cafe where Jodi and I, for 2 years, made space for women to gather and talk about heart felt issues. That was a very special event for us and for the woman that attended. I hoped bB would invite conversation too.

So the truth is, I want/need something from you. Talk to me. Talk to each other. Make this your place too. I’m feeling lonely out here all by myself…

Also, tell a your friends about bB. Send them links to your favorite posts. I have been working to build readership by figuring out SEO’s (search engine optimization), increasing FB page likes and daily tweeting. This exhausts me and my head feels like it is going to explode. Recently, when I was close to detonation, a left brained man suggested I stop all that and use word of mouth. My energy returned and my head remained on my shoulders. I never wanted to do all the shenanigans and contortions the blog world requires. I just wanted to write for you, and for me.

So would you help me build my readership? Please?

That is my confession. I never quite understood the value of my Catholic friends going to confession, but I think I understand now. I feel better after having leveled with you.

Thanks for listening. Would love to hear from you : )

 

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

I deserve it … NO… I want it……

In celebration of my 100th post…and because I don’t have anything new ready to share with you this week…I am rerunning my first post from November 5, 2010. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by or that I have stuck with this for so long. I am impressed with myself : )

I recently bought some new furniture. Okay, I recently bought a lot of new furniture, at a rather expensive local store. Something I don’t do, I shop for bargains, get it cheap, purchase incrementally. But this day I decided I had slid off my fiancé’s leather couch for the last time. I hopped in the car, his car- a cute red convertible- something else I don’t do because I am afraid to scratch, bump or bruise it. I went by myself, another novelty, we usually we shop for major purchases together, but today he wanted to watch the masters and I wanted to shop in the spirit of endless possibilities. It worked for both of us. I stopped for a latte along the way, feeling much younger than I am as my hair flew in a million directions in the open topped car. I didn’t allow myself to think about the knots I would attempt to brush through tonight. I arrived at the store, was greeted by Sherri, a very friendly sales woman who quickly became my new best friend.

I found a great couch; over sized, on sale and I even though I picked the most expensive house couchfabric to cover it in, the price didn’t go up. This was my day! So, it only made sense to now find a matching chair, which I did, with an ottoman. Unfortunately the fabric I picked did increase the price, but I had saved so much on the couch, right? Feeling very satisfied with my purchases, the thought occurred to me-this may be a good time to consider looking for a new dining room table.

When I moved into my fiancés home in November we combined our collection of “lifetime, kid functional, great flea market finds” furniture. I guess you could call the look….ugly. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect pedestal table. And it was being discontinued, so the price was great! How blessed am I?

I returned home and tentatively shared my expedition with Tom. He didn’t quite follow my excitement, but he is smart enough and old enough to know better than to say…”You did what?” Plus we agreed I was buying, so….what could he say? Other than, “you really want to get rid of my leather couch and chair?”

As time set in I panicked, I asked myself “What have I done?” I felt guilty. It was too much. Who do I think I am? I spoke with some friends who assured me I got great deals and it is all really good furniture…as only good women friend will do…and they said, “After all, you deserve it!”

Really? I deserve it? What does that mean? I had been noticing for awhile that women say to themselves or to a friend, “You deserve it”! When I heard this spoken to me I wondered what I had done to deserve it? Had I been really, really good, worked really, really hard, done “it” right? Is that why I deserve it? What if I hadn’t overachieved, does that mean I don’t deserve it?

As I thought about this, I concluded that we tell ourselves and others “They deserve it” because it is a very clever detour around feeling our guilt of wanting and getting! I watch my women friends and clients work harder and never feel good enough or deserving. I see us care more about others and care less about ourselves. I began to get curious. What if I felt my wants, regardless of what I have done, accomplished, or achieved? Could I let myself befriend my desire, know it intimately, inside and out, like a treasured lover? Can I tolerate feeling my desire, as well as, the possibility of being disappointed?. What if I want it and can’t afford it or my partner isn’t in agreement with my wants. Do I chose to ignore my desire so I never feel my disappointment? Like the saying, “Blessed are those that expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” I think this is convenient… for awhile… but exhausting and soul robbing in the end.

I bought this furniture because I wanted it. Plain and simple. I want my new home to welcome me at the door with furnishing I adore and can fall into at the end of the day. I want to feel proud of the home we have created and welcome friends in to share our loved creation. I wanted it, I could make it happen, this time, and for that I feel extremely grateful. I may also deserve it, but that is not why I bought it. I trusted myself, my desire, felt it and loved it into action.

With love
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating my 100th post!!!! Life is a buffet…

I am remembering a phone call with my dear friend Kathleen. Instead of asking what was my New Year’s resolution she asked what do I want in the new year? Hmmm.

This simple word substitution opened a totally different door in my psyche.

What do I want?

Honestly? After thinking about it, I want it all.

Life is a veritable, all-you-can-eat, smorgasbord. It all looks so appetizing my mouth imageswaters. I want to taste most everything. I want to read the Better After 50 booklist. I want to learn how to knit a hat–I can knit a scarf. I want to join a cooking club where we take turns trying new recipes on each other. I want to take a writing class, a meditation class, a succulent wreath making class, a Spanish class, a typing class. I want to learn to use Facebook and Twitter like a 20-something-year-old.

I confessed my desire to my monthly women’s group telling them I want it all. I heard myself repeating it several times because it felt soooo good to admit. I want it all. I want it all. I want it all. Iwantitall. Jude suggested this was greed. Everyone in the circle gasped. Did Jude just call me greedy?

I didn’t feel offended, I felt interested. Am I greedy? Is this greed? Gimme-gimme-have-you-got, my mom’s voice chided.

I looked up the definition of greed; an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. Hmmm. I thought about this. Lord knows I don’t want to be selfish…I have heard of what happens to selfish women…

I realized I felt more hungry than greedy, more interested and excited than insatiable. I just don’t want to miss anything.

I wonder if this is what happens after 50, after the kids are grown, the nest is empty, and the diaper money that morphed into soccer camps, that morphed into prom gowns, that morphed into gas money, has finally found it’s way back into my wallet? Do I want it all because I have more time and resources? Because it’s my turn again?

Sorting through my many wants, in any given moment, takes discernment. It also requires the ability to tolerate disappointment. I don’t always get what I want. Sometimes because it is too much money. Or too much time. Or my work schedule gets in the way. Or I have conflicting wants–I want to go to that event but I also want to spend time by myself.

Letting myself want is a tricky business. Not so easy after-all.

Yet, I am enjoying going after what I want. I am even having fun telling you what I want…I want to sit home all day watching movie marathons in my p.j.’s, eating popcorn and homemade soup. I want to clean and organize the garage, paint the spare room, have lunch with my son, volunteer, go shopping with my daughter, write more, nap often…

Hmmm…Maybe the myth of selfish women is untrue. Maybe when we look out for our selves, trust what we want, we are happier. More fulfilled. Content.

What do you want?
waxseal2

 

 

 

I just went for salad and got a life lesson….

On my way to work I stopped at the grocery store, heading directly to the salad bar, my habituated lunch choice. Once there, I noticed a woman standing a few feet from the earth-friendly paper boxes I needed. It looked as though she was simply waiting for her friend, who was a few feet from her at the bread counter.

I said, “Excuse me,” to her, paused momentarily, and then stepped between her and the much needed salad box. As I pulled the top box from the stack, she said, “Well, pardon me.” Accent on the WELL.

I felt the agitation in her voice. She was telling me I had rudely moved into her space. I held my breath and felt my own irritation with her as I recognized this as a choice point. How do I choose to respond? Do I apologize for my perceived affront or do I assert my intention? I took a moment.

I often base my decision, in these awkward moments, on my mood at the time. I am not proud of this method of determining my next move. I know I should base it on the highest good for all man and woman-kind. I should engage with her and explain myself. I should be nice. I should be relational. I should. I should.

Instead of what I should have done, I went with my tired, pissy and in-a-hurry mood. I responded with equal exasperation. I spoke over my shoulder to her, “I said excuse me.” Accent on the SAID.

She responded,”Well, I didn’t hear you.” Accent on the WELL, I DIDN’T HEAR YOU.

By this time I was half way down the first side of the salad bar. I had my spring mix, grapeimages tomatoes, peas and was scooping-up some chick peas, answering her in my head, “Well, is it my job to make sure you hear me? How am I supposed to know you didn’t? Why didn’t you just move when you saw me headed for the salad boxes?”

I was working myself into a fit. How dare she!!!

Another choice point. Do I say any of this to her? Do I share my grumpy disposition further? Or do I save it for later when I need to I argue with Verizon about this months’ bill? I wasn’t sure I wanted to unload on a random woman at the salad bar.

As I was contemplating my next move and heaping coals on my defense, her friend came quietly up beside me. “Please let me apologize for my friends behavior,” she said, “she has dementia and this is not a good day for her.”

I was mortified with myself.

I looked this woman in the eye and told her it was really okay, I understood and thanked her for telling me.

I was ashamed. I was also extremely grateful I kept my indignation to myself; fully aware that my silence was not due to my niceness but to my indecisiveness.

I finished making my salad. Quietly. Humbly. I began to judge myself, telling myself what an awful person I am for being mean to a woman with dementia. Why couldn’t I just be nice? What was the big deal? So she said something snarky, couldn’t I have just risen above it, been my higher self?

As I moved toward the 10-items-or-less check out line, I stopped at the baked goods to bag a chocolate chip, pecan cookie, not that I deserved dessert after my bad behavior, and found myself standing next to the same two women. I overheard their loving interaction with each other. I was touched. I noticed how the woman that that approached me took care of her friend. They, too, were after something sweet.

In that moment of feeding our mutual sweet tooth’s, I felt our mutual humanness and fragility. I recognized how our humanity is sometimes the good news and other times the bad news.

I realized I can, or will, be my highest self…unless I am not. But, it is my job to take responsibility for both. Most of us are really trying doing our best. Everyday. Sometimes our best is lovely. Sometimes our best is not so great.

If I keep that in mind, I will be gentler with your humanness…as well as my own.

Humbly Yours,

waxseal2