I could, but I don’t want to…

When I was younger I did things because I could. Or should. Or perhaps I didn’t know any better. I could talk on the phone, make dinner, oversee the kids homework. I carried a washer and dryer into the basement in my first married apartment. I helped build an addition, doubling the size of our home, with a 2 year old underfoot and another one on the way. For several years I sustained a 2 hour commute, couch surfed or stayed in the cheapest room.

I am not complaining. In fact I am bragging. These were badges of honor to me. The more I could do, the more valuable I felt. Self sacrifice, manual labor, inconvenience were all indications of my fortitude. I was an Amazon woman. I didn’t need any help. Thank you very much.

But today I feel differently. I hear myself saying, “I could do that…but I don’t want to.” I don’t want to drive there. I could but I don’t want to clean out the garage. I don’t want to hang sheet rock, drive a nail, or go to Lumber Liquidators, EVER. If I am on the phone and Tom asks me where the refrigerator is, I don’t show him.

Part of me is afraid I have gone soft. That I’m being a baby. A wimp. I am also concerned this is my creative way of pretending it has nothing to do with my age. It’s not that I can’t lift that bundle of roof shingles, I just don’t want to…images

I think what I am getting at is choice. And wisdom.

A very wise woman once told me, “If it is not my passion it is not my job.” So today I check with myself before I throw myself into a habituated pattern of Amazonian pursuits. Do I want to do this? Is this my job? And yes, I admit, I must ask, “Will I throw my back out?”

XO

waxseal2

 

 

 

I Make Myself Smile.

I have a friend that talks to herself as she settles into any comfie chair. “Okay”, she says making little noises of satisfaction as she readjusts herself, “This is good.”

Initially I thought this was very odd behavior. Doesn’t she know I can hear her, I asked myself with a less than veiled judgement? Is she talking to me? Is she crazy?

As is ALWAYS the case when I judge another, within 2 weeks I am eating my words and doing the very thing I criticized. So as I fell into the couch after a particularly long day and overheard my murmuring, “Okay. Alright. This is good,” I couldn’t help but smile at myself. I was humbled.

What I judge in others I will meet in myself.

This comeuppance also happens when I use the words ALWAYS or NEVER. As in, “I would never do that,” or “I always do this.” When I hear these words pop out of my mouth I have learned to TAKE THEM BACK. (Notice I didn’t say always.) I say, out loud to myself, and to whomever I have made my pronouncement, “I take it back. I take it bad. I take it back.” Three times seems sufficient.

I know I will do it or say it. I will make that wrong turn and scare a pedestrian. I will thoughtlessly take up the whole locker room bench, spreading my stuff out as I change. I will carelessly say something that hurts someone. And…I will talk to myself.

Now I talk to myself regularly. I like it. I enjoy hearing my thoughts outside of my head. It feels strangely relational. Caring. It makes me smile. It also makes me wonder if this is early dementia. Or aging. I didn’t talk to myself when I was younger. I didn’t fart as much either.

The other day I was unloading the back seat of my car, strategically organizing my computer bag, lunch bag, boxes of kleenex and purse onto my shoulders and under my arms before I crossed the street to my office. Once I was equally balanced on both shoulders, like a well-packed mule, I stepped into the street.

When I reached the middle of the street, where PAT buses fly, I heard myself say, like a parent speaking to a child, “You didn’t even look before you stepped into the street.”

Silently I answered. “But I listened. I didn’t hear any cars coming.” I said it like a defensive adolescent.

I cleverly responded, aloud, “But what if an electric car was coming. You can’t hear them.”

I had me. Good point. Lesson taken. I smiled, acknowledging this verbal exchange between me and me in the middle of the street. I also looked around to see if anyone had heard me. Thankfully I was alone.

If a woman talks to herself and no one is there to hear, did she make a noise?

ALWAYS,

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

I can’t know what I don’t know…and I hate that!

Sometimes we just don’t know. We don’t know the best way to go in our lives, what decision will move us in a desired direction or what will keep us safe in the future.

Staying in the not-knowing is painstakingly hard. I hate it. Most of my friends do too.

I often attempt to correct this unpleasantness with a lot of figuring-out-of-things. Making pro and con lists. Getting others opinions. Imagining into the future. Anything to know.

Living in the question is an act of faith. I have to trust that I will know when I am ready to know. That takes a tremendous amount of confidence…in me. It also means I must remain open to all possibilities, not just the narrow the options I have selected so I feel more comfortable.

My new daughter-in-law was struggling with some career decisions. She wanted to know what she should do…now! She went back and forth, up and down, trying to know the right choice.

I told her that she needed to be willing to live in her question, until her answer appeared. I assured her it would.

I felt like the wise sage offering advise to the fair maiden. Advise born of 5 ½ decades of figuring out life…sometimes more successfully than others. Life takes its own time and its own route. We are best served by being willing companions to the ride.

I like knowing this.
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

What do you want people not to miss about you?

Tom is always finding obscure online stories and sending them to me to read. When he asks, “What did you think of the piece I sent you,” sometimes I lie. I tell him it was good, interesting, something my life is better for knowing…I do imagesthis because I feel bad saying, “Didn’t read it.” My mom would call this a white lie. She was good at white lies. I think a lie is a lie. To be honest, sometimes I lie.

Sometimes Tom reads his latest, interesting story to me while I am making my lunch for work or getting dressed. I think he suspects my duplicity and wants to be sure I hear this one. Sometimes it’s a great story and I say, “Wow, that’s a great story, send it to me, it would make a fun blog piece.”

So this post is brought to you by way of Tom and his Wednesday morning internet article reading.

The story was about 75 year-old songwriter, Allen Toussaint, who wrote, “Working in the Coalmine” and “Southern Nights.” The article spoke of his reluctance to let people know he had finished an album because he was afraid of the critique it would face. Van Dyke Parks, a well known composer, instrumentalist and songwriter, came to visit him to support him in releasing the album. He told Allen to “Imagine you’re going to die in two weeks. What do you want people not to miss about you?”

In response to that question he wrote, “Southern Nights,” so that anyone who heard the song would know something essential about the people and the land that shaped him.

On my way to work I asked myself, out loud, I talk to myself…as shared in last weeks post, “What do I want people not to miss about me?”

My immediate answer was, “That I care.”

Sometimes too much. I have written about that.

Sometimes in odd ways. I have written about that too.

By the time I got to work I realized this blog is my album.

This is what I want you to not miss about me. I write about my humanity, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you can feel and accept yours. I am honest…even about my dishonesty, so that you can love and accept your contradictions. I let you know who I am, by telling on myself, so you don’t feel alone being more of who you are. This is how I show you I care.

Now you know!

What do you want people to not miss about you?
waxseal2

 

 

 

A day in the mountains…

I spent yesterday in a time warp. Jena was a bridesmaid in a best-childhood-girlfriends’ wedding, along with several other lifelong friends, and Tom and I were invited to join the celebration.

Going back to the mountains is a mixed bag for me. I feel totally at home and out of place at the same time. This is how I spent the 24 years I lived there. A neighbor and a stranger.

The small church was packed. I recognized one pew full of people on the other side of the church from where Tom and I sat in folding chairs. It was filled with the neighbors and friends I had raised my kids with, and my X husband and his new wife Patty, from Boswell, PA. Really!

The ceremony these two young kids created was touching. It brought me to tears. Their words, humor and poignancy made me realize how grown up our daughters had become. (Jena if you are reading this don’t get any ideas.)The bride (and groom) had clearly designed a wedding that was uniquely their own. Everyone recognized their personalities and quirks. The groom deliberately ended his wedding vows with a preposition (they are both English buffs), to alleviate his brides insecurity that her vows wouldn’t be as good as his. “Where are your vows at?”

Instead of communion, or lighting a common candle, or pouring colored sand into a bottle, the groom poured milk into a goblet, the bride chocolate. Together they stirred it into chocolate milk. The best man provided two straws and together they drank from the same cup. There was not a dry eye, or a face without a smile, in the church.

The bride and her dad danced to a song they sang together on road trips. Not just any song, but the operatic Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – Time to Say Goodbye. As they spun around the dance floor they sang it to one another, hitting high notes with dramatic flourish.

In his toast, her dad told funny stories. One in particular was about a phone call he got while working the late shift. She told him she had hit a bird with her car. She had killed it. But, it was still stuck in her grill. Could he please get it out when he got home? “Of course,” he said. Turned out the bird was a goose. Stuck in the grill, and the hood, in such a way that as she drove the 4 foot wing span opened and closed.

Again, not a dry eye or an unsmiling face in the room. Conjoined polarities.

At the end of the evening Tom asked me to drive home. I took the wheel without hesitation. I knew these roads. I had driven them most of my adult life. I recently told someone that I am still learning to be a city driver because I am really a country driver. City driving, with all the cars on the road, the on/off ramps that send me careening into 70 mph traffic, the street lingo rolling off natives tongues — the parkway, the crosstown blvd, the boulevard — the surprise road closures that knock me off my course, keeps my breathing shallow and my wits on end. Being in the mountains, driving in the dark was a piece of wedding cake.

Except it wasn’t. And when had it gotten THIS DARK? I couldn’t see anything outside of my headlights. At some point I noticed the road we were on was getting terribly narrow and winding. I didn’t remember this stretch of road from Ohiopyle to Chalk Hill. Where were we and how had I gotten off course?

I could hear Twilight Zone music playing, Rod Sterlings voice saying, “You have just entered another dimension.”

Tom pretended to calmly suggest I wait to find a driveway to turn around in. He was concerned that the sides of the road would be swampy. In a very small voice I told him I didn’t suspect there was going to be any driveways along this road.

And there wasn’t.

I eventually found a wider part of the road and did a K-K-K turn, knowing that to go further could lead us into the part of the mountains where no man has gone before and returned to tell the story. Dunbar.

I wound my way back up the road, totally disoriented in a completely familiar place. And let me say again, it was so damn DARK. We came to an intersection that I sat at for more than a minute, getting my bearings. (You can do that on country roads at 8:30 at night cuz you are the only one on the road.)

My wits returned, I turned right and successfully drove us home. To Pittsburgh. That is my home now. But driving past the entrance to Deer Lake, my home of 24 years, I could have just as easily turned left to go home.

Returning to a past life. That is what I did yesterday. I fell back into conversations as though I hadn’t been gone for 5 years. As though I had seen neighbors just the other day. But when they asked me, “What’s new?” how do I begin to tell them: my whole life.

Perhaps you can never go home again. Or at least not without some disorientation.

 

Membership Pledge Week

A couple of weeks ago all of my favorite radio stations held their pledge week. They drive me crazy, and they work. My guilt, my sense of doing my share, and my really wanting that super duper CD or ladies cut T shirt gift with a $120 donation-only $10 a week, you spend that much on coffee, think how well your coffee goes with NPR, pledge now by calling…- drive me to make my pledge. And gladly. They offer a great gift to me and I appreciate it.

And they gave me a great idea. Pledge week at being Boswell.

That’s right. Pledge week.

But don’t send money. (Well you can if you want too.) Send your friends. Introduce them to being Boswell. Suggest if they like it they can subscribe to receive weekly stories. Stories that will make them laugh, as well as bring them to tears. Stories they can relate to, see themselves in, comment on and be part of a conversation. They can even have their Monday morning coffee with bB. And it’s free!

Pick your favorite post, highlight the URL address (that is the long line of letters at the top of the page where the little stone is, for my technically challenged readers, I am not being smart…really) paste it in an email and send it to 10 (or more if you like) friends you think would benefit from reading bB.

If you love bB send a friend now. For the next week the universe will match your friend contribution with one of it’s own. So your donation will be doubled.

I want to increase my readership by the end of the year. Why? Because it is what bloggers do. And if I get really popular, companies will advertise with me and I will be paid for writing. That would be soooo cool. Gaining subscribers also energizes me to keep writing.

So I need your help.

And your gift for pledging friends? An embarsassing picture of me dressed as Mary Tyler Moore/That Girl/Mad Men Woman from last weekends Halloween Party.

It's my hair

It’s my hair

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

Do I Matter to You?

The woman I referenced in last weeks post, the one that asked where my blog was, told me this week that it would be okay with her if I wanted to write about her. My first reaction was, “Be careful what you ask for.” My second was curiosity. Why did she want me to write about her?

Turns out she wanted to know if she mattered to me. If she was important to me. Interesting. Was she worthy to be written about?

In fact she is a very interesting woman and I care a lot about her. She decorates for Halloween, makes a stand to not decorate for Christmas then caves and does it, struggles with family obligations, loves to travel and works professionally with women.  She asks important life questions like, “Is this all there is?” She actually reminds me of myself at her age. (God did I just say that? Am I that old?) She agreed. She sees herself in me 20 years from now. (I am that old.)

As she and I talked about her invitation, and where it came from in her, I knew I had to take her up on her offer. It so perfectly unveiled our ever present want/need to know we matter to an other. That we are special. Valued. Important.

It was easy to give her what she wanted. I told her how much I liked her and how I look forward to our time together. But even more than that, I told her it takes a brave woman to ask those questions and risk the answers. For that I admired her.images

So let’s think about this for a moment. How do we know if we matter to others? Sometimes we ask. Often we don’t. We prefer to wait for clues, signals and then make up a story based on the others words or behaviors. Sometimes that story is in our favor and sometimes it is not.

To ask, “Do I matter to you?”, is vulnerable-making and as a species we avoid our vulnerability at all costs. The number one reason we don’t want to feel our feelings is because we don’t want to feel vulnerable. I get it. I don’t like to either. And, like my young friend, I try to do it anyway. It is worth the risk. The pain can be great but so can the connection that comes from a spoken, “You matter to me.” I think it is worth it.

Would you be willing to ask your important others what they feel toward you this week? To tell your important others what they mean to you? (Yea it goes both ways.) Report back. I would love to hear your stories.
waxseal2

 

My One Year Anniversary…

A reader recently asked me, “What has happened to your blog? I miss it.”

I appreciated the question, and her caring. And I was uncertain of the answer. What had happened?

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 22nd I will be one year without my period. That may be TMI for some of you, but those of you somewhere on the menopausal spectrum know what that date means. According to western medicine I am in MENOPAUSE, or more accurately, according to Wikipedia, I am postmenopausal.

I have high hopes for myself on Wednesday the 23rd. I have been promised, assured and convinced that menopause is a spiritual club that only women who have survived peri menopause get to join. I think there may even be a special hand shake that I will intuitively know upon waking Wednesday morning. I will greet my fellow PM’ers with a knowing nod. We will smile, confident we have made it to where our erratic, irritable, bleeding sisters wish they were.

By Wednesday afternoon I am counting on my hormones to play nice so I can make it through a day without weeping; that I will no longer be combustable so I can stop stripping off layers in the Apple store in front of a Genius; and that my mind will regain clarity so I can remember the password to my ATM card. (If any of you know differently please don’t burst my bubble. I need this illusion.)

The last 4 weeks, the final menstrual stretch, has left me feeling reclusive. All I want to do is get home, lock the front door, and close the curtains. Some days I can’t get out of the car and up the front steps fast enough. Turning that knob, clockwise, between me and the rest of the world, is a spiritual experience.

Which brings me back the question, “What happened to my blog?” I have had several ideas for interesting posts over the past month. I have written them down, dictated them into my phone and emailed them to myself, recited potential topics in the shower. It’s not  that I haven’t been feeling creative, I simply could not make myself type them out. I could not move them beyond my interior self.

I shared this with a friend, concerned that I might be depressed. She is a PM’er too so I knew she would know. She confidently assured me that I was not depressed. She said I was incubating.

Incubating. That fits. I like that image. I am incubating. images

I have decided to trust this process. Surrender to it and gracefully morph into my next version of me. I may need to stay under the grow light a little bit longer. I will be sure to let you know how I turn out.
waxseal2

 

 

 

Have you even been at the end of the rainbow?

I haven’t either until now…I took this picture while we were in Cape Cod. I stood at the end of the rainbow!IMG_0205

I tried to make meaning out of it, as I am prone to do…perhaps I will come into money, good luck, maybe I am in good favor with the gods. Or maybe it is simply a site to behold and for that I am blessed.

And I wanted to share it with you.

Many blessings,
waxseal2

 

 

 

I DO. I HAVE. I BE.

At our July women’s group Jude summed up life with these three choices. They made sense to me. I knew these in myself. I wrote them down and have been noticing them ever since.

I DO.

And boy, do I. I think this way. All. Of. The. Time.

“What do I need to do?” I feel tired.

“What should I do?” I feel exhausted.

“I finally I got that done, but look at all I didn’t get done.” I feel beaten.

It’s hard to get out of bed some mornings.

I believed that when the kids were launched I would have all kinds of time on my hands. That I would get it all done, whatever it was that needed doing. Maybe I would even be bored. That I would entertain myself by organizing my junk drawer.

I am not keeping up with my list of to do’s. I cannot even close my junk drawer.

 

I HAVE. 

I have down sized twice in the last 5 years so I have much less than I ever did. I kinda like this. I live in a small home that will not tolerate a lot of stuff. This reality supports minimal accumulation. It makes window shopping bittersweet…I see something I love and want, knowing it will truly make my life complete, but, remind myself there is no place to put it, hang it, or prop it. I walk away…sad for not having, relieved that that purchase will not be on my next months Visa bill.

However, I have cleverly rectified this dilemma by disguising my consumerism as necessary home improvement projects. Depending on the day and my mood this list can be quite long. My have and my do are a formidable couple.

I was visiting with a friend yesterday and while we talked I was gathering home improvement ideas from her place. I mused that maybe I would rip out our wrought iron banister, explaining I never was a fan of wrought iron and by replacing it with wood, like her’s, it would warm up our place. Laura said she kind of liked wrought iron, she said she thought it looked clean. I remembered she has an iron coffee table and end table. Then she said, “I don’t know, you could do that, maybe you are made of money and that is not a consideration.”

Thank you Jesus. Or Laura. Those words cut right through my need to have. My budget  and my sensibility rose to the surface. I felt relieved. Less to pay for and less to do.

I went home and appreciated my wrought iron bannister in a whole new way.

 

To BE. 

There is sooo much written on this state of mind. It is unarguably the way to be (no pun intended). But, man, is it hard to do (hah, another pun).

I have been mulling around the idea of how to turn my to do list into a want list so I can be more in the moment while doing it. Still with me?

If I do what I do, fully doing it, then I will be. Got that?

So when I am finished writing this post I plan to weed my garden. Weeding is not one of my favorite activities. I wish I were one of those people that feel contentment yanking and sweating and clipping, but I am not. However, I do walk through my garden every time I leave the house, often stopping to admire it, amazed with myself for creating such a spot of beauty, so I want it to look good.

I found my want. I want to pull weeds, tend to my garden, restore it to beauty. It is no longer a to do, but a want.

I consider calling my friend Heidi while I garden since we have been playing phone tag…you know, kill two birds with one stone (bad garden metaphor). I quickly remind myself that multitasking is not conducive to being.

I decide to just garden, to be fully in the moment, pulling weeds, clipping plants, sweating like a women in menopause; not thinking about the next chore to be done.

Wish me luck…
waxseal2

 

 

Post Script

My garden looks beautiful. I still didn’t love the job, but I love the result both in the garden and in myself.

I was fully in my moment, BEING while I was DOING.