Monthly Archives: July 2012

Back to Books

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I am settling in to my routine. Job search, eat, change resume, job search, change cover letter, eat, computer class, homework so I can ultimately reward myself with eating and reading, but before I start the stories on my girls, I want to update you on some books. Remember those?

I liked “Beach Colors” by Shelley Noble. This author is a former dancer and choreographer but chose to write about the fashion industry, hence the title. Although I would have rather read about dancers, she did a good job of creating a start over for Margaux, the star of this story. She loses everything to a loser husband and returns home to her small Connecticut home near the sea.

I can’t get enough of these books. If it has sea, ocean, beach or even cottage in the title, I’m hooked. Oh yeah, and Maine. (Although my friend that goes to college inland there, assured me that the coast is the only mesmerizing part of Maine). Anyway, Margaux licks her wounds, reconnects with her mom and friends and discovers that the brooding local police chief  (I know…) gives her the shivers. Add a traumatized six year old boy (the chief’s nephew) who only whispers and you have more than a decent read. Well written with good characterizations. Shelley is not just good at dancing.

I got a new library card and will baptize it (sorry) with Philip Gully’s newest pew rocker, “The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a New Christianity”, “The Color of Tea” by Hannah Tunnicliffe, “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani and yes, you guessed it…”The Cottage at Glass Beach” by Barbieri.

Some (first time authors) new books to be released in August, which sound fabulous, are “City of Women”, a historical thriller about the city of Berlin emptied of men during WWll, with movie rights already sold! I look forward to M. L. Stedman’s book “The Light Between Oceans” about a couple in Australia who decided to raise a child found on the island where they are lighthouse keepers during WWl, and a fictional memoir called “In the Shadow of the Banyan” about the 1970’s Khmer Rouge Cambodian genocide by Vaddey Ratner, who was minor royalty at the time.

Yum, lots to look forward to between living.

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Motherless Woman

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I didn’t like the way I was mothered. My mom disagreed with my assessment. Come to think of it, isn’t that the definition of denial? She passed away in October after years of estrangement. I’ve had years of therapy to patch the holes she made in my heart. Sadly, I know I put some in hers. I learned more than I wanted from the experience, screamed uncle more than once, but it shaped me into a much better mom. The price of admission.

On a scale of crummy she would rate somewhere on the left side of middle. Bad enough to leave scars. Good at some things, horrible at others. I never felt she connected to me. In order to move past my momma-pain I had to look at my whole family. It is like putting together a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. You have to accept it will never be complete.

She grew up amidst alcoholism, sexual abuse, poverty and misogyny. Not a good foundation for marriage let alone parenthood. My surviving dad, sister and brother have lead chaotic, rage-filled lives. Uh, they would disagree with that too. I was the lucky one chosen (or did I choose?) to escape. I got out.

I am more grateful than you can imagine. I spent years grieving the loss of my family and wondered why I had a different outcome than my siblings. I realize now they didn’t choose Fairy Godmothers like I did. I CRAVED mothering. Something that has taken me decades to admit, because there is nothing I find more distasteful than being needy. You know…to have NEEDS. I was ripe for divine intervention and I was smart enough, (or needy enough depending on your definition), to open my heart to it.

When God gave me the opportunity to choose a new family he supplied the cream of the crop. I was gifted with six of the most amazing women that ever walked the earth. Are they crisp, sharp, examples of perfection? Nope. God DOES have a sense of humor, and they all became close friends.

Alice, Toni, Sandy, Bev, Alma, and Marian are smart, noisy, quiet, feisty, determined, sassy, outgoing, introverted, funny AMAZON women who modeled for me what it is to be a wife, mom and friend. In the beginning I only saw their magic. I was dazzled and hungry for it. With time and experience I began to observe from them what it truly means to be a success, accepting that life isn’t fair, that all we really have is love.

They are experts in the field of love. Unconditional, messy, fragile, enduring, unbreakable bonds of love. P.H.D.’s at love!

I have decided to profile their stories here in the next two blogs. Stories that are funny (my wedding dress saga is a classic still told today) and inspiring. When ever I leave their company my heart is full of joy. I’ll share (some of them read my blogs so I’ll respect their more personal details…I’m NOT stupid FGM’s!) what I learned from them and how I was able to forgive my mom for not being like them.

They chose to see me through, my mom chose to quit. I can’t fathom giving up on my kids. I want to be a Fairy Godmother! What that means? Next.

Legacy of Laughter

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I lost an amazing friend well over a decade ago. He was like a brother to me but he died of cancer far too young. He left behind a wife and three young boys. His sister also died tragically young. It has taken me many years to come to terms with their loss. I spent a lot of time at their house in my twenties. He and his sister were raised by an amazing single mom. Their home was a happy place with lots of laughter and singing.

They both loved to torture me at the dinner table. They were like Abbott and Costello in their comic timing. They would sit on either side of me and would have me laughing so hard I’d usually end up having to leave the table. One time my drink shot out my nose. My stomach would ache from laughing so hard and I felt like passing out when I couldn’t catch my breath. I don’t think I’ve laughed like that since. Those memories are stored forever in my heart.

This week I was invited to spend an evening with his three sons and I was spellbound. They are now in high school and college. I (again) spent a hilarious evening laughing while sitting at the dinner table. We shared old  memories and I was struck by what wonderful grown men they have become. Their mom has done an amazing job raising them under very difficult circumstances. She’s my hero.

She had huge shoes to fill! Her husband was smart, charming, kind and a man you could count on.  He adored his wife and children and I couldn’t help but wonder that night, what he would have thought of his amazing sons? I found myself looking for him in their faces. Expressions, mannerisms, echoes of the past. They never knew their aunt, she passed before they were born, but she was at the table too. I heard her in their laughter and saw her in their brilliance. She had a high IQ like these boys share.

Most of all I saw them for who they are. Separate young adults with their own personality traits and character. The best of both worlds. The world that passed before them and the one they are staking out today as their own.  They stand in no ones shadow and that is how their dad would have wanted it. Lucky me, I was there to see it!

T.M.I.

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I had a great conversation with friends yesterday about speaking up. When should we speak up? There are those who speak up easily and those who don’t speak up when they should. I’ve been on the receiving end of both and each have their consequences. How and when you say something is important and an art we don’t get much training on.

We are bombarded with advice on everything these days. The internet, parenting, health, religion, marriage, politics. It starts to spill into every waking minute. It has taken over our culture to the point that there is very little agreement on anything anymore. The debate has become more important than finding the solution. What does that get us? TMI!

Speaking of which…I enjoyed “Honeymoon with My Brother” by Franz Wisner much more than I expected. The only thing I didn’t like was too much detail (TMD?)a couple times on Franz’s sex life. It was superfluous to the story.

Franz begins as a very self-absorbed, successful  professional with a fiancee that gets cold feet. She dumps him days before the wedding and he ends up taking his brother (newly divorced) on what was to be his honeymoon trip. It is such a success they both decide to quit their jobs, sell everything and extend it to a trip around the world. Boys-just-want-to-have-fun-while-healing-a-broken-heart kind of trip.

These two very different brothers end up reconnecting in ways they couldn’t have imagined. On this journey they both are transformed from shallow to deeply effected individuals by the cultures, and people they encounter. I was impressed by the changes that occur and their sensitive observations. This was not one of those luxurious trips around the world, although they did have some comforts. They were totally open to the experience and getting off the beaten path. It was the making of this memoir, and of Franz.

Mirror, Mirror.

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Gosh it’s nice to be wanted! My former boss invited me to lunch this week. She told me that she would love to re-hire me but all the costly library-district remodels had frozen any hiring . No hours. The story of my life. I didn’t go to lunch to talk about a potential job but it was really nice of her to bring it up. I went because I enjoy her company and we’ve always liked each other. It was great to get caught up and it was a nice ego boost.  Easy come, easy go.

I’ve been getting  lots of feedback on my resumes. I think I’m up to five different ones now and counting. One has too much info, one not enough. One doesn’t blow my horn enough and one skips some of my more colorful work experiences. Remember the pathology study with rats? You don’t?!

I am a verbal person (do I hear laughing?) and don’t like depending on a paper copy, or electronic for that matter, to represent who I am. I’ve been spending time with old friends who have mirrored such wonderful things back to me lately. I didn’t realize how much that had been missing from my life. It has been a much easier transition coming back to Colorado than I expected. I’ll need all the support I can get in the weeks ahead. Networking is the new buzz word for job searches. HOW I do that should make for some interesting stories.

I was at a disadvantage in Oregon, far from my best. I feel like I am just now hitting my stride and getting back to me. Or a new and improved version of me? T&B have no idea how much they figured in to that. So many relationships shape us if we let them. My heart feels full. Haven’t felt that in awhile and I am deeply humbled by it. Funny how losing something can give you the chance to gain it again.

In the meantime I’m reading “Honeymoon With My Brother” by Franz Wisner, but I really want to be reading Philip Gulley’s newest book, “Evolution of Faith: How God is Making a Better Christianity”. I really admire this former Quaker Pastor who wrote the wonderfully humorous, fictional “Harmony Series”. This is a downside of not working in a library. I have to wait a long time to get my hands on new books, AND I can’t just go out and buy them now. I’ve been known to spend my last dime on them. I know you GET that!

Make the effort to surround yourself with those who mirror the best in you. We all know too well the price of being bombarded with the  negative. Blow away the smoke, let the real you shine!

Books…For A Change?

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A long time friend gave me a copy of her first published book. “Wings of Love” is a spiritual allegory of the soul and is rendered by the mesmerizing illustrations of Eris Klein. Like the possibilities in any book, this will speak powerfully to those who are open to it. I love that Pamela Sachs illustrates her spiritual journey by sharing such a deeply personal part of her life with the world. Like most of us she has faced many a mountain climb. She had two young girls to raise as she lost her young husband.  She told me that this is more of a “gift” book, it’s a short, soft cover and I have to agree with her. It’s a gift.

My next read was a fluffy-beach-towel read by Holly Chamberlin that  has three very different women, (who are strangers) sharing a run down beach house on Martha’s Vineyard.

One is a very structured with a controlled plan. Another is escaping a stifling fiance and the other is a shoot-from-the-hip, free spirit, who doesn’t like commitment. I thought some of their personal conversations tedious until they got to know each other better. Not a bad read and it had some funny moments. The women grow more introspective together  and that’s what made this book interesting to me. I love that they jump in with both feet despite their natures.

I saved the best book for last. “The Gilly Salt Sisters”by Tiffany Baker is wonderful. It has all the elements I love in a book. Quirky, eccentric, thrilling. This  story is chock full of  believable characters you can’t help but like. The savagery of high passions mixed with tenderness, mystery, and intrigue. This book has everything.

Claire and Jo are two sisters who are a contrast of night and day. They live on a salt pond in an isolated village in Cape Cod. The salt is there livelihood and the crystals hold mysterious properties. They become estranged tragically but at the story’s conclusion an odd trio of women decide the fate of a man, insanely driven to own the salt pond. Couldn’t put this down. You’ll never look at the spice of life the same again.

Unconditional Love

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I had  a delightful afternoon with an old friend yesterday. We were both young mothers together and my family frequently house sat for them and their Bichon, Zippy. Yep, I have a long history with this breed. My love of dogs goes back to early childhood when I fell in love with Betty Boop’s dog “Pudgy”. Every afternoon after school I would watch black and white cartoons of Betty and Pudgy. Pudgy got into all sorts of trouble but Betty knew it was worth it in the end.

Zippy is now thirteen but still has the same zip he always has, he just can’t jump up like he used to. I am amazed at the resiliency of this breed and how well they age. It made me miss Bianca though. They are such affectionate dogs and Zippy greeted me if I had never been away.Pudgy had that same precociousness that I see in the bottomless, brown eyes of both Zippy and Bianca. They are forever young and have a fathomless heart for the people they love. How lucky are we to be on the receiving end?!

I still adore Betty Boop to this day. She was the first role model for an independent woman living on her own. I never got the suggestive clothing or garter until I was much older (she was originally a flapper of the 20’s and drawn by Max Fleischer) but it didn’t matter. Betty and Pudgy would forever be a permanent fixture in my heart. Just like Bianca and Zippy.

My time here has been bitter sweet. Looking back at youthful folly, measuring mistakes and growth, trying to let go of the past and forgive my human frailties. It’s not easy. The important ones, the ones that taught me the most, are those who  modeled love and acceptance. I realize now that the “be  like me club” was never going to issue me an invitation. Looking honestly at who we are and being accountable for that is difficult. I try every day.

I’ve been talking with my son about his childhood memories and they weren’t always flattering to me. I tried so hard, juggled so much and wanted to be a perfect parent. That was my first big mistake. I told him his feelings are more important than my ego. When truly listening, there is no right and wrong. I knew this day would come and I fortunately have had enough trust in God’s grace (and therapy) to know this was a good thing. I could never have this conversation with my own parents and am deeply grateful my son doesn’t have to carry around the baggage that I carried around for mine. He deeply loves and respects me and we can talk about anything. Love, forgiveness, acceptance. Unconditionally! I guess I didn’t do so bad after all. Do you want to change enough to hear the truth?