Rough Week?

My act of kindness this week was not killing anyone.

Oye!

The difference between me and people who actually do kill people is I never actually think about snuffing out a life. This week I just wanted to defend myself, in an angry tone, with a strongly worded text, and I didn’t. I listened and realized the attack wasn’t about me, it was about them, and in that moment of clarity, I calmed down. more “Rough Week?”

Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place

Black Rock Coffee Bar

We have this great place in my hood to meet for coffee, or to get a little work done with a cup of coffee out among other human beings. The first time I walked into this new place to meet a friend, Kathy (she’s very nice, you should try to meet her there for coffee too), I immediately noticed that I suddenly was in a better frame of mind. I almost never notice things like that, but goodness is obvious here the moment you walk in.

Coffee brings us together, doesn’t it? It’s a bit of a treat. It provides a socially acceptable meeting location for our stimulant fixes.

It’s possible that the late, great, NBC sitcom Friends and Central Perk may have given us this gift of a great way to hang together. Phoebe, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Ross and Rachel became a family at Central Perk. more “Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place”

The Kindness War

“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

Stephen Stills 1967

Kindness is at war with evil.

The battle lines are being drawn by celebrities, politicians, comedians, some cats, my next door neighbor. It’s a battle to fight violence, judgement, hatred, intolerance, apathy, by way of being consciously kind.

It’s a victimless war.

It’s a hard time to believe in people right now–between child detention, the constant revelations of the #MeToo movement, the racial, economic and gender-based injustices we witness every day.

It could not be a better time for a movie about Mister Rogers. But, when has there ever been a time when it wasn’t a good idea to listen to a peaceful man? Our family went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor this past weekend. It was a 10 PM showing on a Friday night after a long week. We were in recliners at the Harkins at the mall. I had a glass of champagne to sip during the movie. Our kids came with us, they’re 20 and 22, and we’d all been swimming in 110 heat for most of the day.  Although,It was the perfect storm to sleep from opening to ending credits, no one slept. It was even kinda riveting. It’s a very quiet, beautiful film about a very quiet, beautiful man who embodies unconditional love. He makes seeking kindness first seem easy. It isn’t always. But, Fred Rogers shows that kindness is a choice we can make daily, that feelings are important and valid, and that love, or its vacancy, is the dynamic force behind our actions.

And then there’s Lady Gaga!!! She’s so much more than we were led to believe at her beginning. She is actively speaking out to make a difference in the world she sees. Personally, I see humans in most places trying to change the world by spreading kindness.

Here’s a thing: To be consciously kind takes a little effort, but not nearly as much as hate requires.

Then! Here in Chandler, is my friend Helen. Un-frickin-believable Helen.

If she reads on facebook that I’m sick or injured, which, to put into perspective, I am injured/sick more often than not-that-way, she goes into high alert as to how she can ease my pain. For exp: a coffee mug of George Clooney’s self-portrait (a personal fave), An In-N-Out gift card, root beer, chocolate covered cherries when my father died because he loved those things, anything from Disneyland that involves magic or Tigger. These perfect gifts will just appear on my doorstep, and after Helen ding dong ditches at a speed only a 5 year-old should be able to achieve, I will open the door to see only the evidence of love and compassion sitting in a potted plant. I’m just one of hundreds of people she stalks for goodness.  My daughter, Hannah, calls her S.O.G. for Sister of God. We are humbled by her very nature. S.O.G. you rock.

Let’s be Helen today and do one thing for one person who doesn’t expect or maybe even deserve a little surprise. Even a flower from your yard on their front door is enough. Let me know if you actually do this please!

Your one act of kindness shared can reach the world. This little blog alone is reaching Russia. You have a chance to reach across this huge cultural divide just by saying “Hi.” Or “I put a flower on my neighbors door. They never noticed it…”

Aforementioned cat changing the world…

Neighbors For Good

I see a world where we continually define ourselves by the way in which we are divided.

Our family moved to Chandler, Arizona from Los Angeles 18 years ago. We found a nice house we could almost afford in a safe neighborhood. My husband and I had two small daughters at the time. I suggested leaving L.A. the day helicopters were hovering over our house bellowing repeatedly through a blow horn for everyone to lock all doors and windows and stay inside. An armed robber was thought to be hiding in one of our backyards after shooting the owner of our corner grocery store. I love LA, but life in Chandler has been way less “survival of the fittest.”

The first day of house shopping brought us into 20 identical, beige, stucco houses in 20 different neighborhoods between Scottsdale and Chandler. more “Neighbors For Good”

Just For Today

Maybe just for today we can find a way to offer hope just by being open to someone else’s walk through humanity. In my opinion, this is vitally important because now more than ever, Americans seem to rise up through tragedy just too often to keep going on. 

Jane, a friend of mine from my distant adolescence in California, posted this on Facebook after one of our way too many mass shootings, or maybe it was in response to the divisiveness of our political climate… more “Just For Today”

How To Change The World

peace-clip-art-at-vector-clip-art-free.png
It can be as close as next door. 

On October 1, 2017, Steven Paddock had a psychotic break in Las Vegas and unleashed a string of bullets onto unsuspecting country music fans across the street from his hotel. No one saw it coming and no one knows why. Our world seems lost and out of control.

Ten years ago, I had an idea during a fabulous weekend retreat. The Walk To Emmaus. http://azemmaus.org/

On fire with a thousand grand ambitions when I got home, I started showering my children with affection, “Hannah, I made you some toast, my precious child of God.”

Hannah liked being showered with toast, and so I branched out and experimented with various cashiers in our neighborhood stores. I just said, “Hi” to them though. No toast. The feedback was instantaneous; my kids were surprised, “What happened to you?” And more than once at Wal-Mart, cashiers remarked, “Your kindness does not go unnoticed. It makes a difference. Thank you.”  more “How To Change The World”

My Name is Mom, Not God

This is the same story as told in: “It’s Been Five Days Since You Left, But We’re Still Here and You’re Not and It Is So Quiet.”  But, I sought help from Kevin McGeehan and this is how it evolved. I just wanted to put it out into the world beyond the one storytelling event I was brave enough to enter. Which was my event. I produced it. So, not really all that brave.

A different take on the same event:

There are six of us in this tiny space: proud grandparents, anxious parents, Hannah-the-Freshman, and Talia-the-supportive-little-sister who is singlehandedly organizing what appears to be a closet. Everyone is shoving “necessary” items wherever they could fit, except for me. Overwhelmed by debilitating fear I am useless in this chaotic room. I just stand in the middle of chaos clutching my favorite pair of Hannah’s shoes. All motherly devotion seems irrationally transferred onto these shoes. 

I’m jolted out of my inertia when Hannah’s new roommate, Christine, suddenly pitches into the room, drunk. Christine, all tanned boobs and short shorts squeals “HANNAH!!!” and lunges forward on her stiletto’s to give Hannah an insincere hug. Christine is the embodiment of every parental nightmare: a partying freshman roommate. The predator.

  Not knowing what to do, I do what I do best. Freeze. This is not my first time lost in motherhood.

When Hannah was a week old she got an audition for a commercial. At the time,  we were actor’s living in L.A. Hannah booked the job and at ten days old shot a national commercial.

  She was adorable during the casting: alert, quiet. Perfect. On the day of the shoot though, she wouldn’t stop screaming. I didn’t know what to do, I just stood there, frozen, listening to her cry and wincing at every dirty look from…everyone.

After what felt like a few years had passed, the director called to “remove the crier.” A surely assistant director handed her over like a bag of squid. I grabbed her, ran out into the hallway and clutching her to my chest begged her to forgive me. I didn’t rescue her. I’m the Mom and I blew it. When her gasping sobs stopped, I held her out to look at her scrunched up little face.

 I swear she smiled at me. I stopped breathing for a second. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. “I promise I will never leave you.” I swore this would be my last mistake as Mom.

  18 years of mistakes later, the day has come to move out of her childhood home into her freshman dorm. On the sidewalk in front of our house, a sobbing Hannah could not let go of Andrew, the-stunned-soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. About to attend universities in separate states, it didn’t look good for the long run.

  Hannah and Andrew dated during their senior year and, of course, he asked her to the prom. Hannah bought her dress with her own money, a sparkling, soft pink, strapless gown. It cost four times what I was willing to pay for a prom dress.

  I bought her shoes, and because Andrew is not tall, Hannah, in a shocking turn from her usual CFM’s was determined to wear flats. We found a pair of Steve Madden sandals with rhinestones imbedded in clear plastic straps and a beige plastic sole. They looked pretty cheap in the box. But when she put them on the clear plastic straps disappeared and the sparkles wrapped around her feet as if held on by magic. They were the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.

I borrowed them once. I felt magical. For a moment, Hannah and I shared these pretty, pretty shoes. In a moment, I must relinquish the girl with the memory of a sweet dance in beautiful shoes with a handsome boy.

  Back in the dorm room the magic shoes seem cemented in my fist. The perfect place to leave them doesn’t exist. Christine might want to borrow them. Christine could ruin the shoes.  

  Of the two girls who are about to live in this dorm, I love one so very much, but I relate to one of them so much more.  I was Christine when I was 18. I know this enemy. It used to be me.

  Without looking at anyone other than Hannah, Christine slurs “Nice to meet you” to the room in general and is gone as fast as she came. Watching Christine leave I realize I have no control over this situation. I probably have never had control over any situation ever. Because I am only Mom. Not God.

18 years ago I had no idea she would be the one to leave.

  I step on the printer to climb over the mini-refrigerator and sit next to her on the long, single bed. I reluctantly hand her our pretty, pretty shoes. “Please. Stay. Strong.  Do not lend these to Christine. I would like to see them again.” Hannah just laughs, “Mom, the shoes and I can both stand up to Christine.”

Our time is almost up. “If you ever need anything Hannah, you can always come crying to me. I think I’m ready for you now.“

  Out in parking lot the proud grandparents drive away first. The sobbing, mascara stained sisters cling to each other as our existing world changes forever. There is nothing my husband and I can do to ease the pain of their separation. We can only stand aside and watch. What I want to say to my pair of beautiful girls is, “I promise I will learn to let you go.”

What I actually say as I hug Hannah goodbye, “Take your vitamins and be gentle when you break up with Andrew.”

  College, it’s the real world transition for the parents, not just the kids.

Shoes pictured are not actual size. Or the actual pair mentioned in post. Just really pretty and very similar to aforementioned sandals.

 

No Promises

I have time to write at the moment. I read through previous blog posts so I don’t repeat myself – too much. I came across this piece and thought it might be worth re-visiting. 
It is now edited a little and it comes with a question: 
Is there anyone else who, despite the terror of being tied down, made the decision to get married and have children and realized you looked fear/phobia in the eye, and replied “yes” instead of “I don’t know” and now your life is better because the word “yes” or “okay” was said out loud?
Please leave me a comment if this is you. Even if it isn’t. I’d love to hear any story.  I have time to read it and reply. Maybe it will be inspiring to look back at your life and find something good came from sticking to a choice. 
No Promises
(first published in 2011)

I have commitment issues. 

I can’t even spell commitment. Spell check has fixed it every time I’ve written it. Which is exactly 2 times as of this writing. Spell check fixes imperfect thought patterns – doesn’t it?

The mere confrontation by another person just to set a date with me (and I do view it as a confrontation) invokes an immediate back pedaling deep in my soul.

At first an invitation has promise and hope, so I want to reply; “Yes, I’d love to meet for lunch or marry you or circle the globe.” But the inevitable fear induced answer is said instead. “I’ll check my schedule and get back to you… However, my schedule is not available at the moment.” Loosely translated this means, “I don’t know if I’ll feel like doing that then.”

If I agree to a lunch date, I may not be able to make the 8 other places I’ve sort of committed to already. There are no small decisions. Each act must be weighed carefully so to avoid as much regret as possible.

When I replied “okay” to my husbands marriage proposal it was a hesitant, shaky, wimpy answer. Which really meant: I can answer with a confident yes after we’ve been married and had two children who make it to their teens. I’ll know then. Maybe. But, a couple of questions first – IF I marry you, will your kisses still make my knees tremble next year? Will you still want me when the biggest choice of my day is to tuck my boobs into my pants or throw them over my shoulder? Will I want you sleeping right next to me every single night? Will there be no other men? Ever?

I’ve been married to a wonderful, strong, caring man for 21 years because some very wise friends told me he was the best man they knew. They were right – which I realized on the honeymoon and most, if not all, of the days since.

No one has ever asked me to circle the globe with them. I would need to check my schedule before I replied “Yeah, no. But thanks.”

I go kicking and screaming into anything that’s good for me: marriage, child-bearing, roughage. But I willingly and easily jump into anything that isn’t, for exp: I moved to NYC when I was 23 with $200 in my pocket and that is all the money I had to my name. I easily choose wine and Fritos for dinner over, say, a salad. Laying comatose on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory while having wine and Fritos seems a good use of time. 

And obviously, flirting is more exciting than promises-well, duh….

Maybe it’s really the choice of fun versus lifelong healthy goals that’s the issue. Not committment. (I CANNOT spell that word!) (Why can’t spell check spell it either? Does everyone, including computer applications, have this same issue?)

WHY do I run from people and healthy food and a secure future? Only guessing, but I think it may be because I’m a product of the sixties. I just want to be free – to go back to a world before commitments, before life as I know it – back to before – when there were no promises to keep.

I do not have a full time job – I have 8 part-time jobs. Full time seems like such a lot of time in one place….I have 20 ex-boyfriends, 1 husband, 2 daughters, 3 pets and I’m 52 (it has been 5 years since I wrote this. I’m not 52 anymore. Time went on and I haven’t changed). I’ve committed somewhere – or at least should be…I have been married for 21 years and the daughters are still living. (Yay me!?)

Maybe it’s a good sign I know I’m flaky and scared. I have not ended up alone. I show up when I make a lunch date. I’m late, but I do show up eventually. I have love. And spell check. I have promises I made and will eventually keep. Maybe even before the compelling deep in my soul to skip freely away – wins.

My knees still tremble at the promise and commitment in my husband’s voice-and in his kisses-maybe he’s my spell check.