Ta-Da!

With a flourish and wave of the hand the great unveiling—-Ta-Da!  It’s kind of like the fist in the air Yes!, but more of a public viewing of your great accomplishments. But what about the frequent admonishment from my Mother “Self-praise stinks.”?  Does it really stink to pat yourself on the back and say “Well done.” I have been unable to completely disregard my Mothers edict, but I have learned that the “stink” of self-praise more often smells like the fresh air after a good rain.

My college boyfriend told me that I was not original, I didn’t create anything. I stayed in the shadow of his great, public talents. What could I do to show I was creative? What did I have to show for being me? I got very good grades and made the Deans List, nobody noticed and I couldn’t sing my own praises.  I lost weight and from out behind the curtain stepped an attractive young woman. I got noticed! finally, but being noticed by preying men was not the attention I needed. I couldn’t see that I was of value for the original I truly was. It was like behind the curtain was the great and powerful  OZ, and there I was front and center, just little old me and I had no power to make wishes come true.

I joke that it was Prozac which un-leashed my creativity. This is the truth— after extensive  therapy and taking Prozac I came out from behind the wall (not that Wall!) of depression. I realized I had been living with my brakes on.  I was in there somewhere and amazed myself with my drive to create. I started with cards, then collage and decoupage. Then I learned how to make jewelry and have made thousands of earrings. Writing came next and crocheting and  playing and making music on the banjo and ….  I had lots of Ta-Da! opportunities. I made this and this, and I continue to create.

Human doing and human being. I learned to love by being human and doing loving things. There are things you can do to show how much you love someone, but often the  love is expressed in non-visible ways: support, kindness, listening etc….   Loving is original and creative. Anger is too. When our gift of love, our creation is rejected, the hurt is very deep. We have revealed our vulnerable selves behind our masks, and we are rejected. In spite of the risks, we are charged with creating ourselves and sharing our gift with the world.

When I get to Heaven, St. Peter, of pearly gates fame, will ask me to show him what is behind my curtain, my final Ta-Da! moment. My hope is that there will be nothing behind the curtain.  I gave it all away.

 

2018:Get Me Out’a Here

I must say 2018 has not been a stellar year for me, and barring any last minute miracles, the year will end with a whimper. I know I have a wonderful sister who lives, breathes, writes and fosters gratitude, but forgive me if I don’t choose gratitude for 2018. Challenging myself to quickly name three things I associate with the last year, I come up with lies, deadly storms/fires and crying children separated from their mothers. Nothing pretty about any of those things. You could argue that these happenings are macro, meaning of the political or cultural world and not really about me, my micro world. Unfortunately the macro has become the micro. My home was burned to the ground or blown away by hurricane winds, a child alone and crying was my child and my world was polluted with deceit and lies. In order to breathe I wear a mask of denial to filter out a reality that is poison. Is it really this bad? Yes.

The whole is theoretically greater than its parts, but what if the whole is less than its parts?  Together we have become the lowest common denominator of community.  I got turned around and around and my “moral compass” has taken sometime to again calibrate to true North.  The Svengali and Pied Pipers say “Come this way, we are not our brothers keeper, hate and greed are our path. Sell your soul for a small piece of the pie.”  Our values are being watered down every day, and soon will be so diluted we will be unable to remember a “we” exists. America is being led by a petulant bully who is incapable of empathy.  I want to apologize to the world. I am so sorry and ashamed that he is being enabled to deny climate change and dirty our air and water. I am so ashamed that the “us” excludes you if your skin is not white and your faith could be cause for murder. I can’t understand how commitments and partnerships have come to mean so little, but I guess when the “truth isn’t the truth” nothing matters.  Nothing. Matters.

I have voted, called and written my representatives, and held signs and protested. Still the arrogant Bully is in the Oval Office surrounded by spineless sycophants. If I had any talent for drawing cartoons I would quite enjoy depicting this scene. Certain people in the U.S. must have been ripe for picking by racist whitey-tighteys. Reason can’t persuade hate to step aside. It seems that hate is not based on reason, but on fear. I have to believe that Love trumps fear.

In spite of it all I feel a spark of hope for the new year. I am not sure why, but perhaps I have lived long enough to know “That this too shall pass.”  Change will come too slow for me, but it will come.  WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS.

Life is Out to Get Me

So we’ve packed the car with Pull and Peel Licorice, Tootsie Pops, something from the salty food group, lots of Diet Pop, and off we go on our road trip. BUT we can’t get out of our parking space because some assholes are parked an inch away from both bumpers, all our tires are flat and the car won’t start.  We are going nowhere!  In situations such as this, I cycle between rage and despair and neither gets me even close to problem solving. This last week has been an exercise in practicing patience, and learning that rage and/or despair are not conducive to serenity or problem solving.

It all began Saturday, November 17th at 12:30 p.m. in the middle of the intersection of College Avenue and Swallow Road. I was in one of two cars that met in the intersection and my forward motion was abruptly stopped. Nothing like the sound of a car being crunched. I was O.k.the other driver was O.K. (Thank God),  but our cars were not. I was able to get my car off of College, the busiest street in Fort Collins, but the crunch impeded turning my right front tire more than a few inches. After the police came to visit and assess people and cars, the other driver was cited for an improper left turn and my car was towed to a lot awaiting an estimate and repair. 

It gets worst. Snafus with the claim with State Farm, and State Farm determined that their driver was 85% liable and I was 15% liable. I was expected to pay 15% of repair and rental car. How is  liability divided like this? Why not 90% for their driver and 10% for me. Or even better—100% liability for their driver and 0% for me. Fed up, I filed a claim with my insurance and asked them to fight it out with State Farm. I needed a rental car, so since last Tuesday, 1 week ago, I am on my third rental car. One was too big, one had a leaky tire and finally today I found a car that is just right. I am feeling like Goldilocks, but my fingers are crossed.

On the tip of my tongue is a good whine: Why is everything always so screwed up for me? A sure path to resentment is feeling like bad luck always hits the bullseye on my backside. Is God or the Universe really paying the shit forward to only me?  I have thought about this theory and have concluded I am not that important for so much personal attention focused on my ledger of positives and negatives.

 It’s not personal!  Rage and despair are not my only options when things don’t go the way I think they should. I will have some more stories to tell after this experience and maybe it will seem funny even. I deal with it, do the next right thing and keep it in perspective. I remain calm and carry on. Shit Happens!

Midterm Elections

I lost the election. I didn’t ride the blue wave, nor did I claim a seat in the House of the Homeowners Association. There will be no recounts, but I am suspicious of election fraud. The biggest fallout from the election is my sense of shame at losing, and rage at the current board President who is not “doing the right thing”.  You know how it feels when you are the last person picked to be on the team, that’s how I feel.  It’s all about power, who has it and who doesn’t. If you don’t have a seat at the table you may only get scraps. Cynical? Maybe.

Power, what is it and who has it?  power: the ability or right to control people or things

Some people are powerful because the electorate has voted them into power. Some people are powerful because they have billions of dollars, they buy their way into power.  Some people are powerful because they have superior physical strength. I don’t have enough votes, bucks or physical strength, so what power do I have? I have to think about this because it’s hard to see myself as powerful.

Lately I keep hearing “words matter”, I think this means that words can be powerful. I know that some writers and speakers have moved me to tears, laughter, awe, or rage. I read or hear their words and I am inspired to open my heart and/or my mind. I may take action in response to what I read and felt. Words that inspire are very powerful. The influence that a well written piece or a good speech can have is not easily measured, but we have all felt it. In the current social climate I can only hope that the truth is more powerful than propaganda. Are words of love and tolerance more powerful than words of hate and racism?  Are my words powerful? You decide.

Kindness can change the course of a day or even a lifetime. A hand offered in kindness can save a person in despair or stop a fist raised in anger— that’s powerful in my view. When words are being spewed at us, kindness may be the last thing we think of, but we do have the power to pause and consider our response. Kindness is soft and quiet but wields more power than hard and loud anger or indifference. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Theodore Roosevelt,   “carry a big stick” part means be willing and able to defend yourself if you have to. Pragmatic power! I worry the “big stick” would be too available and may not be the last resort.

I don’t have the power to change other people. Oh, how I wish I did. My power lies in being able to control my own actions and attitudes, and much of the time I can’t even do that. A work in progress for sure. Another view of power is “Knowledge is Power”. I am kind of an egg-head so I subscribe to this theory. The danger is that my  “knowledge” may lead me to think I know best, or if I just know enough I will be able to stop bad things from happening. And then we have the school of thought that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. It’s all very confusing.

Power (plural:powers)  The Powers are an order of angels in the hierarchy of angels. The Powers have power over the devil and can prevent demons from harming anyone. They can help humans repulse temptations too. Now this is real POWER.

Sing the Chorus with Me

I am writing a song.  If you’re thinking, “I didn’t know Danita knew how to write a song”, you’re right! I don’t have a clue, but I do have a teacher, a great deal of motivation and something I need to say. I have gotten this far, 66 years old as of Halloween, and it seems to me that making a life is all about learning, having mentors and teachers and lots of motivation. I’ve got a sharp pencil, a good eraser and blank music sheets.  I have good hearing but I doubt I have what’s referred to as a “good ear” for music; what I do have is “”me” and the desire to write my song come hell or high water . I don’t have to create my song as much as I need to uncover it and write it down.”I got the music in me.”

Lyrics and a melody are the first elements of a song. I play banjo so I use a  scale on my banjo to find notes to arrange into a melody. Those years of piano lessons really pay off now and I can use my keyboard too. Notes is notes whether on a banjo or a piano. Mozart, Bach and Lennon and McCarthy all had the same raw materials to work with but their music is vastly different. Of course I will not ever be in such talented company. Do I want to write my song country, or rock and roll or folksy? I could rap it, but banjo and rap do NOT go together. I want to use Adele and Lady Gaga as my muses. The song in me is one of a kind, boisterous and wonderful. I may write a bad song but the cost of not writing even a bad song is too high.

So I play a note and question how it fits in my song and with my lyrics. Which pitch is better-like an eye exam, “1or 2?” fiddling with the lens and again “1or 2?” These choices get the doctor to the best correction for my eyes and this seems to work for writing my song too. There have been lots of times in my life when I have been unconscious of myself in the world, but I am very conscious of my process right now. I am closer to the end of my life and wasting moments is turning my back on myself. When is now.

There’s a mess on my kitchen table, which is always the epi-center of my home.  My keyboard, my music sheets, my lamp and that ever present cup of coffee. Oh yeah there’s also some beads that I am threading unto the fringe of a cowl I crocheted.  My banjo is in its stand next to the table. I sit in the chair that gives me the best view out the window and let my fingers do the talking. A lot of the time I sit and look out the window and listen to the sounds in my head  I hope I can channel onto my music sheets. 

What’s the point? The chances of my song becoming a hit song are 1 in a million, unless of course Lady Gaga sings it. It’s an experiment, it’s learning something new, and right now it gives me joy. Reason enough. It does seem to be banging me on the head lately, Sing Me!

My Star was born a long time ago and my light is finally reaching the earth. We are all stars, everyone of us. Join me on the chorus!

Irish Twins

My brother Neal and I are the same age from Sept 14 to October 31. Let’s just say we are both Medicare eligible this year. The other day I introduced my brother to a co-worker and explained we were the same age for 6 weeks of the year. She said they call that Irish Twins. This was news to my brother and I, but I liked the name, it sounded endearing, and I  wondered what the source of the name was.  I was surprised to find out that the term was rather derogatory.  “Irish twins” is actually an insult. The term was used to ridicule Irish immigrants who were low on the totem pole.

From the Urban Dictionary: Firstly, the term pokes fun at the stereotypical fertility of Irish Catholic families, which traditionally do not use birth control. In addition, it implies that the Irish lack the ability to plan ahead or control themselves, having children in quick succession rather than responsibly spacing them. Finally, it suggests that the Irish do not understand the medical definition of twins, which involves two children conceived and born together. 

Not very flattering is it? We did come from a large Catholic family, but not Irish— actually  from German and Bohemian stock. My parents most certainly did not use birth control as Neal and I are members of a crowd of 13 siblings. I would never call my parents irresponsible, just rather devout Catholics who followed the no birth control pill edict of the Catholic Church. Whatever the religious and cultural values of our rural farm neighbors, most comments that were made mentioned the “two in diapers” or  “ that was quick”. I can’t speak for my brother, but I thought it was pretty cool to be the same age for part of each year. I still do.

There are a couple of photos of Neal and I: in a crib together or proudly standing together with a tractor tire as a background. I do remember a couple of episodes of giggling in church. We did get the giggles fairly often. Because of the cut off birthdays for assigning grades in school, we were in different grades.  Neal’s “footprint” in school, especially high school was bigger than mine. He was popular and dated all the pretty girls and was into sports. He married his high school sweetheart who is the light of his life and a wonderful, much loved member of our family. My life wandered a bit but I found love too. 

My brother visited for a few days last week and I still like him!  In high school he yelled at me( under the influence?)as I came into the gym “Hey Sis!” and I gave him a small wave. I liked his attention.  What I know for sure is that we have the luck of the Irish because we are Irish Twins. I am so lucky.

To Plug or Unplug?

On my kitchen counter is a basket I use to corral all of my charging devices: phone, iPads, Fitbit, Waterpik, etc. Its a tangled web of plugs and cords but they are in one location so I can  locate what charger I need for what device. Oh shit! I only have 10% battery charge on my phone. What does my phone charger look like? I plug one end into the outlet and the other  into my phone and the magic little light says my battery is charging.  Crisis averted! It’s like  Star Trek Captain Kirk tells Scotty “I need full power” and Scotty says “Aye, Aye Captain.” and off they go where no man has gone before. 

So am I addicted to my electronic devices? Just because I become very nervous when I realize I left my phone at home, or the internet is down, doesn’t mean I can’t do my day without them. Of course I can be a social techie user, I can control myself and use like normal people. One hour on my IPad  doesn’t mean I will be unable to stop….  I think I may be self medicating! I am running from something or I have a hole in my soul I am trying to fill. I don’t have a charger or any power source to plug into, how do I recharge myself?

If watts or volts of electricity can’t power me up, I need to think about what can. Unplugging from worry and resentment allows me to rest my mind and experience some peace. I meditate every day for at least 10 minutes and usually I will feel more clear headed when I am done. I worry about checking out too much and just hiding and isolating from life. I just realized that overuse of my electronic devices serves the same purpose— I can isolate and hide from life. Damn! That means I need to find some balance of plugged in and unplugged, but living in balance is not one of my strengths.

Taking a walk is one way I know to recharge my soul but still feel at peace. Life is a marathon, so resting and recharging means I can be ready to run when I want to. Regularly allowing my muscles and mind to rest gives me a reservoir of energy to draw on. Constant stress and power surges increase the amount of cortisol in my body.  I am simply overloaded with bad ju-ju and my body is so stressed that I can’t respond anymore. Too much of anything is not good for me. I can eat to give my body energy but if I overeat I am a lethargic sofa slug. When my phone or IPad is 100% charged, leaving it plugged in for 24 hours more will not increase the charge more than 100%.

I wish I knew where the sweet spot of energy use and energy recharge was. Until then I will just need to experiment and keep my devices charged up. Put me on a desert island with no electricity and I would still try the tin can and string Walkie talkie to reach you!