Sidestepping My Inner Bitch While Waltzing With The Woman I'm Becoming

The Eldest Unnamed One is on the bandwagon of creating your own reality. He's wants me to read a book I gave him for Christmas- How to Expand Love by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I saw the Dalai Lama on a TV special a few weeks ago and was delighted with his sweet giggle and loving attitude, so I'll start it tonight.

I need the shot of positive energy. I need a bullet-proof vest to keep me from falling into the negativity that sometimes seems to surround me. It's very easy to relapse into my Inner Bitch, so I'll pump up the Woman I Hope To Become with some Dalai Lama.

And maybe we'll get snowed in as they're predicting for Thursday and I'll have a good dose of teenaged boys to bolster my forward push.

AND I wrote 5 pages of the new book today...

Life is always looking up...as long as you don't trip over your own issues.


The Bitch Is Grateful and The Woman Relieved

Okay, so maybe the Universe celebrates imperfection in our intentions. You know how one of the Intentions I set for myself was to have money left over at the end of the month? This so I could continue my lake house Intention? Well, a check for $1658. arrived out of the blue today. Completely unexpected! Add to that a child support check ON TIME, miracle of miracles and $100 found in my jeans pocket...laundered money to be sure as it was in the washing machine.

This doesn't even include my grand shopping excursion to Harris Teeter this morning where I rang up a bill for $334. but walked out after discounts and coupons only paying $178! And that's stocking up on enough meat to feed an army for a month!

Maybe Billy the Blogging Poet isn't the only one who likes me with a distinct flavor of Bitch! Maybe the Universe doesn't mind a few snide remarks or sarcastic comments. Maybe It laughs right along with me...

Furthermore- I am writing. It may be shit, but it's words on paper and my characters are beginning to express themselves.

Funny thing, too- the main character is moving to the lake...

Small world, huh?


Day 7- Becoming the Woman I am, not the Bitch I've Become

The saga continues:

I have this friend, Margo, and she has some very wise things to say on the subject of Becoming. Hopefully, I can paraphrase her without getting too much of this wrong- but Margo says basically- Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are you. It's a process, with two steps forward and a slide backward at times. She says it's best to work on one intention at a time and MEAN IT. This means- WORK REALLY HARD AT IT.

She finds it impossible to do a complete revamp of your life with full energy and be able to sustain the momentum. She is quite right! Hell, in one week I've had my bitch on 3 or 4 out of 7 days.

Which, granted, is an improvement- but it is not exactly Rome either.

Expect your intentions to work, yes, Margo says, but put in the elbow grease to make them happen.

Amen, Sister!

She says it's hard to change lifelong thought processes. Absolutely true. I have found this week that I will eat a hell of a lot of shit to avoid conflict when deep down inside I would like nothing better than to bitch slap the holy hell out of whomever is standing on my last nerve. I would like to defend my position. I would like to say what I'm thinking. And most of the time I don't...especially if I think it will lead to yelling and screaming instead of resolution and compromise.

I have learned well not to say things in anger because I know too well how deeply they scar. Insults hurled in anger only tarnish love. They never help to change behavior.

Encouragement helps. Praising peoples' efforts helps. Constant criticism doesn't.

So if I take that principle and apply it to my own world, I find it better to try and "be the change I wish to see in the universe." I will lead with kindness and expect kindness to be returned. People usually try to live up to the expectations of those they love.

With the Unnamed Ones I do this by treating them with respect and modeling the behaviors I want them to adopt. I got this from Dad. He went about his life, ministering to others, caring for us above and beyond what most parents would do, and he didn't try to inflict his way of doing things on us unless he absolutely had to.

It took awhile...but eventually I began to walk along the path he left for us. I have a long way to go, but I intend to try and let go of the anger and hurt that get in the way of truly loving others.

As Margo says, no one can make you feel anything- you do that. Likewise, you can't change anybody's way of being- you can only change yourself.

So I'm working on it.

And Margo- here's Intention Number One- I am being mindful of my need to create and write by focusing on it and giving it the time it deserves. I am writing a wonderful novel, with rich, vibrant characters and an amazing plot. I am working hard on this every day. This much I have control over. This I can do.

In the meantime- it has been four months since Dad died and I thought I was doing pretty well with it...Until today, the day after that 4 month anniversary. Today I heard the song "Keep on the Sunny Side," remembered the last time I heard it was with him and lost my total shit.

I love him swell, I do. And I miss him so bad!


And the Circle It Goes Round and Round...

How's this for cool- My 16 year old went to march in Washington! I am so proud! The boy is taking after his old lady!

And damn it! My ex thought of the idea and so he got to take him! Man! I am twelve kinds of green! (By the way, why do people turn green with envy? Shouldn't it be black or something else rotten?)

Yep, The Youngest Unnamed One is doing what I did at his age. It's so strange! But cool, very, very cool!

Then I sent him to Georgetown to prowl around. Of course it's been years since I was there- strolling into the club where Roberta Flack (Killing Me Softly) made her start; visiting my first "Adult" store; sniffing incense in the Head shops...D.C is where my friend Harmonica Jack and I won an Open Mike night at the same club where Emmy Lou Harris used to play.

We rode down from West Chester, PA on his little maybe a Honda 350, on I-95! Me with a guitar strapped to the bike, the two of us singing and laughing like the young fools in love we were. The bike blew a gasket and my cousins rescued us, put us up and then celebrated with us when we actually won!

I have fond memories of D.C- of traveling down on Amtrak to stay with another cousin who was married to a very minor diplomat (who was probably really a spy anyway). We would dress in evening gowns and attend all the embassy parties. Free food, dancing, living like Cinderella for the weekend and staying in an apartment the size of a butter pat.

Running away with my girlfriend when we were still in high school to attend the big March on Washington, while unbeknown to us, her mother and my dad were also there, marching...Hell, we could've caught a ride...

Those were so the days...And now, it's his turn.

You go, boy! Make your old Mama proud!!


While I'm Waiting to Evolve...

At least I can keep my eye on the prize...

I'm going to live at the lake...And it's gonna look like this:

Bitter, resentful people don't do well at the lake...happy people do.

Day 4- Becoming the Woman I Am...

Day 4- Okay, becoming the woman I am is nice. Really it is. All around me, my friends are happy, my kids are sweet and helpful, and money keeps coming in the mail.

Who could complain about all this bliss?

Me. This turning the other cheek crap is wearing on my last nerve. I expect the best from the world. I forgive all the things that have wounded my feelings. But I don't forget. And until I forget, I'm still not forgiving, am I?

If I keep replaying words said in anger and feeling the pain of those hurts, I'm not really living in the present, am I?

I guess I'm looking at the teacup again and ignoring the space around it.

Shit. And I thought I had the "Becoming the Woman I am and not the Bitch I've Become" thing licked in 3 short days!

Oh, well. Time to dig deeper!


Day 3- Being the Woman I am and not the Bitch I've Become

I wouldn't have given you a flip for last night. In fact, I would've said last night that this crap about living my intentions was just a bunch of hooey. But I stuck with it anyway because frankly, what was my alternative? Stay stuck on the pity pot?

And then I remembered the teacup.

All week long I've been plagued by a half-memory of this conversation I had with a friend of mine about a teacup and the space around it. Finally I just had to go see him. "Remember two years ago?" I ask him. "We were talking about a teacup and the space around it."

He looks at me like, I'm supposed to remember something from two years ago? A teacup? What?

And then I see the realization cross his face as he remembers. "The teacup. Yeah! That was about negative space." He frowns trying to recall the details. "I wanted my writing students to look at the entire picture, not just the main object, so I told them to write about the space around the tea cup."

"That's it! That's it exactly!" I say. I have been focusing on the teacup instead of seeing the whole picture. The negatives have been my teacup while I ignore the space around the negative.

I was seeing the proof of my loneliness and not the dis-proof of it. I was looking for further proof that the teacup was the only item in the picture, when there was so much more to notice.

"Who said, 'Be the change you wish to see in the Universe?'" I ask him.

"Gandhi," he says without hesitation.

"That's what we've got to do," I say. "Be the change. Make the first move. Celebrate the negative space around the teacup."

He gives me this puzzled look because I, of course, have neglected to tell him the entire Bitch You've Become story and how pitiful I've been feeling.

"Yeah," Tom said, thinking we are appreciating Gandhi. "One time someone asked Gandhi what he thought about Western Civilization and Gandhi smiled. 'Western Civilization,'he said. 'Sounds like a good idea.'"

Tom chuckles and I laugh right along with him because suddenly, life is good and I am not feeling even a little bit lonely.


Day 2 of Becoming the Woman I am and Not the Bitch I've Become

Day 2: Getting the Love You Want or Wanting the Love You Get...

Well, how about this...I start revving up the old Intention Engine, slipping the gear shift out of Misery and into Drive and look what happens...A check for over $400 arrives unexpectedly in the mail, my kids do what I ask the first time, kind of, and I find myself more present for the rest of the day, more on the planet, awake and paying attention because positive begets positive.

Take Nelda, for example. She's had a miserable life. She's a crabby old woman who was a witch even when she was younger. Now she's confined to a nursing home, paralyzed on her left side and trapped without an exit because not even her children want to be around her. She was about as negative as you could be when I met her.

She'd say the same thing every time I asked her how she was. "Same shit, different day."

And then she got moved to my friend, Alice's hall. Alice won't allow self pity. She insists Nelda do her best. She bullies, coaxes, badgers and loves her patients back to life. But Nelda was not responding. So we poured over her chart, looked for clues and found the most immediate: No one had ever thought to give Nelda an antidepressant!

Now, antidepressants are not wonder drugs. They are designed to help lift the black cloud just enough for you to note the silver lining and begin digging your way back to the real world. Antidepressants are the fart that lifts your butt off your shoulders so you can see all is not as dark as you thought.

So with a giant puff of antidepressant wind, Nelda began to respond. And Alice loved on her. She brought special foods, set up a bird feeder outside Nelda's window, brought her dog, Boomer, to visit and we gave Nelda a teddy bear.

Nelda's up almost daily. She even held my hand a week or two ago and said, "Please don't leave me. I just need someone to love me!"

So today I walk in to talk to her and she is up, dressed and in her wheelchair looking better than I've ever seen her.

"Wow," I said. "You look so pretty!"

Nelda gives me one of her trademark raised eyebrows. "And you're full of bullshit!" she says.

"That may be true," I say. "But it doesn't change the fact that I think you look great today!"

"Well..." Nelda says, thinking it over. "I still think you're full of shit but you can sit down on the bed and talk to me."

That is Nelda-speak for "I like you."

Maybe someone else would see it differently, someone who doesn't know Nelda. But I could see it for what it was.

Which made me wonder, how many other people are trying to tell me they love me? How many times do I blow off someone's attempt to communicate caring because it isn't delivered in a language, a "speak" I understand?

How many times am I like the patients who sit across from me complaining that their spouses don't love them because if they did they would _____ (fill in the blank.) And when I point out things their loved ones are doing that would indicate good will, they shake their heads. "No, that's not love. They should be _____ (fill in another blank.)

Love is being offered, but because it isn't wrapped in the right package, it's tossed aside, unwanted.

Like maybe the husband who works an extra shift on the weekend to buy something the family needs isn't deliberately staying away from his wife, maybe he's showing his love by attempting to make sure they have everything they need.

Maybe looking at what's missing keeps us from seeing the many gifts that others are trying to offer.

Maybe when I see someone I love attempting to do the right thing, I will say thank you, instead of saying "Well, I'm glad you _____, but you forgot to _____."

Maybe I will lighten up on my criticisms of others because they're only indications of my own insecurity. Maybe I will look for and expect the very best of intentions from those I love because not doing so dishonors their attempts to be the wonderful people I love.

And maybe, just maybe, I am full of shit- but it doesn't keep what I'm saying from being true...


7 Days of Becoming the Woman I Am - Not the Bitch I've Become

Day One:

I have fallen off the Intention Engine, allowed myself to slip into the Morass of Misery and totally gotten off the course to a happier new year!

And the thing about it is, it was sooo easy!

All I had to do was take my eye off the prize. Instead of focusing on what I "intend" for my life, I started looking at the pebbles lying in the road that stretches between me and my goals.

Pretty soon, all I could see were the boulders. I focused on the negative energy around me and before long, I'd attracted a whole lot more. After all, doesn't misery love company?

Sometimes I forget the primary Law of Attraction- Energy attracts more energy. If I put out negative energy, that's what comes back. If I seek out the positive, more positive energy is attracted into my life.

If I don't believe in myself and my goals, then I will stumble over pebbles. But if I truly believe in what I seek to attain for myself, it will come. I know, this concept has been around for thousands of years...take Doubting Thomas, for example. When he stopped placing his faith in the right direction, the boy fell down into the water...but when he trusted in his vision, he didn't even get his little pinkie toe wet! It's not rocket science.

Take Woo-dah, the doggie who started chemotherapy today for her melanoma. She's home and feeling fine. Why? The vet said dogs don't react to chemo like humans do. He said, "They don't expect to feel bad, so their symptoms aren't as severe."

(And I haven't even talked about envisioning Woo-dah as cancer free last week and then her going for her cancer staging and us learning she was cancer free. How's that for positive energy?! The chemo's only a precaution now.)

So, for Day One of my Becoming Week- I will let go of the negativity around me and refocus my vision on life as I intend it...

My home is a blissful, comfortable haven where cooperation harmonizes into an atmosphere of encouragement and gratitude. Laughter flows. Tension eases. And it is a joy to anticipate homecomings. I love my family and they love me. My soulmate stands at my side. We appreciate each others strengths and revel in our complimentary personality traits. How empty our lives would be without such diversity. How grateful I am for my wonderful life.

Today is about letting the resentment, hurt feelings and anger go. They are only pebbles. There is no sense in wasting energy on a few pebbles now, is there?


Writing the Truth...Word by Word

I'm trying to follow Annie Lamott and "write the truth." So without pausing to censor, without stopping, let's see where it takes me...

The Truth is:

While Maggie is currently healthy, Boo-Boo Baby almost died this week. This just keeps happening and no one, not even the specialty vets, can figure out what in the world is going on.

For the past year, one by one, with the exception of Bailey Monster the Mutt, each of the schnauzers has been suddenly stricken with a gastrointestinal deal that almost kills them. They wind up in the hospital, on IVs, fighting to stay alive.

The vets swear it's not poison, but I have my doubts. It feels as if a sniper lurks somewhere in the bushes of my backyard and just when I think it's safe, he strikes. No matter how carefully we watch, patrol, feed, or hover over these guys- it strikes.

Everytime one of them pukes, I'm ready to load them in the car and rush to the vet hoping maybe we can stop the process before they're almost dead. This never works.

So each pup has a shaved, Poodle leg from IVs. The only one who looks and seems "normal" is Bailey...and if you think Maggie's psycho, Bailey's a category of crazy unto himself!

But on the positive front- Woo-dah's cancer hasn't spread anywhere in her body. She was "staged" on Tuesday and we got the good news late Wednesday. The vet, a tall, gorgeous woman with long black hair and huge eyes walked into the examining room and I thought there'd been some mistake. They'd sent a runway model in knee high boots to save little Woo's life. Add to this a thick Italian accent and you've got the picture. "Ewww," she coos, dropping to her knees and cupping Woo's chin in her elegantly manicured fingers. "'Es so cute, so sweet, theese one is!"

Woo didn't fall for it. She still trembled and looked very worried about what this one was up to.

I just thought, Damn, do some women have all the luck, or what?! Gorgeous and a brain?

Then I thought, bet managed care isn't bothering these guys! Bet they don't have to fight for reimbursement from the insurance company like we social workers do!

She spoke at great length about the need for chemo even if Woo-dah was clean. I threw in my two cents worth about the new studies on gene therapy with this cancer and we were off to the races. The woman knew her stuff. So, at least one dog is on the mend from one of her two serious illnesses!

This time, doing my homework paid off. Woo is going to be better for it. Wish that had worked for Dad.

Sometimes my heart squeezes so tightly with missing Dad that I find myself crying, even in the middle of doing something fun and totally unrelated to grieving. It's like a summer shower of grief- raining through sunshine.


Snow or Slush, Beauty or Pain in the Ass?

Finally. The first spit of snow has fallen, formally christening the winter. It was only a tiny gesture but one the school kid in me took to heart. I dug out my "Let It Snow" corny winter sweater, baked the old folks a pumpkin/sweet potato pie and after much delaying and procrastinating, set out to make my rounds of the nursing homes.

They were all snuggled under blankets, curtains closed...the very same ones who'd cried "Oh, just one huge snowstorm!" Today it was "What a mess!" or "It's so cold! All I want to do is stay in bed!"

I did have to agree with the latter sentiment. It was a day for staying in and lighting a fire, making tea and baking cookies.

So I fed them still-warm pie and talked about how beautiful it looked in the early morning, how great it was to finally see winter sending us a touch of its beauty.

But they didn't much buy it. They knew the snow had turned to slush and freezing drizzle- even with the curtains closed, they still knew.

Funny how people wish for things and when they get them, only choose to see the negative.

What is with that?

Maggie The Psycho Shower Dog Weighs In On American Idol

It's not enough apparently to protect me from the Dreaded Shower Monster. Now Maggie the Psycho Wonderdog has weighed in with her opinion on the new season of American Idol.

She hates it.

Furthermore, she thinks she can do better and barring that, has better things to do- i.e Attack the shower.


Discount Shopping for Inspiration

Okay, I am still finding pennies. I went to this Google search that had brought someone to my blog: "finding pennies after a death." It is just amazing to me how common this phenomenon is! Pennies seem to be a sign of comfort. Some think the "spirits" find copper easier to manipulate than some other metals...that did spook me a little. I think if Dad wanted to move a mountain full of silver, he'd do it but then what do I know?

In the meantime, I am applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair in hopes that inspiration will strike. Do I seem inspired to you? Me either!

My new hobby is reading the message boards on www.thegrocerygame.com for undiscovered deals that I simply just "can't" live without. This leads to a lot of eye-rolling from the Unnamed Ones. They actually have the nerve to say things like "Yeah, but did we need another fondue pot?" or "So? Who cares if Staples has Sharpies for free after the rebate- who needs Sharpies?"

Hello? Sharpies? Who needs them?!

I also have a free year's subscription to Shape and Money magazine. Okay, so I don't normally read Shape- but Money? And for a year!

And the week's worth of dinners from Omaha Steaks for $99! Okay, so some Unnamed Ones won't enjoy the stuffed sole but hey...I do have friends!

The book, you say? Well, I've got two pages...again.


Miracles of Little Faith or Seeing the Truth With a Keen Eye

Okay, so the penny thing continues...falling out of a brochure Mertis brings me, winking at me from the back seat of the car when no one's been back there...It got me to thinking I was seeing things. Little did I know how right I was!

Today I finally got to the eye doc. Seems over the past few months my vision has gotten worse and worse! See, I'm at that age where if I wear my contact lenses to correct my far away vision, I have to wear glasses to see the small print on things up close.

So I've been wearing only one contact lens, in the eye that has the worst vision, my left eye. It's always been that way- my left eye that is. I have been wearing a 3.50 lens. For those of you that don't know- that means I'm about blind in my left eye.

Well, it's been getting so bad I have to wear my glasses that have a right eye correction just to see where I'm going. In fact, at the doc's office the other day, while sitting on the commode contributing a "sample," I couldn't even read the sign on the back of the door 4' away!

When I finally got in to see my eye doctor, things got weird. First of all, you know they always set you up with the minion who does the basic scut work of the eye exam, measures your eye strength and then turns you over to the "closer" a.k.a the real eye doctor.

The minion got real quiet when she checked my eyes and I noticed she kept checking the left one, like she couldn't quite believe her eyes.

"There's been a big change, huh?" I say, trying to prod information from her.

"I'll say," she mutters under her breath.

She asks if I've been having headaches.

Great, I think, I have a brain tumor.

"You can tell me," I say. "It's bad, isn't it."

She gives me the concrete face. "The doctor'll be in soon," she says, skating out the door.

I sit there with Real Simple magazine on my lap, trying not to think about my brain tumor or whatever it is that's driving me blind, while I read an article on what jeans should fit my big-assed butt while also making me look like I've lost 10 lbs.

I mean, might as well go out lookin' good, right?

So the doc comes in. She's wearing the same corduroy jeans she was wearing last year and they're still a size zero. I figure she hasn't read which jeans will flatter her figure on account of she doesn't need any extra help!

She checks my eyes. And she focuses on the left one for a long, long time. She murmurs, "Hmmm," under her breath.

I'm thinking Macular Degeneration AND a brain tumor now.

"Big change, huh?" I say, trying to sound conversational and not concerned.

"Yep," Heather answers.

"So," I say, leaning back in the examining chair. "What's it measure now?"

Heather gives me this deadpan look that belies absolutely no emotion. "1.75."


Heather nods.

"So that's bad?"

Heather allows herself a tiny hint of a smile. "No, actually your eye has improved dramatically. That's why you can't see and you have headaches. Your contact lens was so strong it blurred your vision."

"So eyes can get better?"

"Sometimes," Heather says. "But usually not like this. This is pretty remarkable."

I can't stand it. "Is it a brain tumor?"

"Well," she says, weighing the option carefully. "That could do it."

Now I want to come out of the chair and strangle her.

"Do you think that's what it is?" I demand.

Heather keeps on writing in the chart, like easy-come-easy-go, what's another patient to her?

"Well, I don't think so. Your eye seems healthy. I don't know what made it do this. You're just very lucky."

Lucky like how? Like miracle lucky or like a near brush with brain tumor lucky?

"It's a miracle!" I say, watching for her reaction.

She smiles- the same staid, unemotional smile she gave me when she walked in.

"Maybe," she says. "We'll just have to wait and see."

Wait and see for what, I wonder? For how long?

I walk out into the overcast, humid morning. Everything around me is suddenly crystal clear with my new 1.75 lens in.

And I find myself thinking the weirdest thing...

A penny is lying nearby saying "The better to see me with, my dear!"

I'm telling you, I'm freakin' losing it!


P.S Them Danged Pennies!


Mertis brought me a form to fill out tonight. When she went to open it, guess what?

Yeah, another penny fell out.

Freaked Old Mertis right out...

Images of New Year's Past

Well finally! After many machinations, I have emerged victorious from my battle with my Canon camera. I now have the pictures from New Year's Eve's game night.

So, without further ado...

The pitiful Woo-dah post surgery:

Woo-dah's new girlfriend:

The Eldest Unnamed One- Not particularly happy he drew the "Draw-lipstick-around-your lips-and-keep-it on-throughout-the-game card.

Of course, he enjoyed the way it got on his face...

The Youngest Unnamed One as a Grumpy Reindeer:

Even Maggie, the Crazed Shower Dog, got into the action...more or rather, less...

The Big Take-Away

Nope, no pennies from Heaven this morning!

I called my brother yesterday to tell him the "Penny Tales."

"What're you doing?" I ask. He's an electrician, so I ask because it wouldn't do to freak him out while he's wiring something. Call me overly cautious but I just don't think you should fool around when you're working with live wires.

"I'm wiring in a new panel box," he says.

I give him the headline, so he's forewarned. "I think I heard from Dad."

"What?! What did you say? Did I hear you right? You heard from Dad?"

I think he put the screwdriver down. I tell him about the pennies and what Ellen's said about signs. I'm kind of holding my breath in case he thinks I'm nuts.

"Wow! I'm gettin' shivers! You know, when Vicki's dad died she got the sign from lady bugs."

I breathe a sigh of relief. I may be nuts anyway, but at least my brother doesn't seem to think so, at least, not about this.

When I get off the line with John, I go on into my next nursing home of the day. I want to say something, tell somebody, but there's just nobody here I'd trust with that kind of story.

Clarence, a thin little man who resembles a plucked, beakless chicken wearing a tweed fedora is sitting in a wheelchair in the hallway. "Hey," he says. "There's my sweetheart," he croaks. He smiles and I stop to hold his hand and reassure him that I am his sweetheart.

I walk away and behind me I hear him saying "She's my sweetheart! She loves me. She said she loves me. Hey, you hear that? She loves me!"

I enter the social work office and sit there doing paperwork, listening to Clarence out in the hallway. "Do you know my mama? Do you? Do you know her name? Tell me her name?"

Throughout the afternoon I pass Clarence, each time stopping to take his hand and tell him all over again that I am his sweetheart. When I am leaving I give him a hug and hear all the way down the hallway and out the door "She hugged me! She hugged me! I told you, she loves me!"

And really, I do.

I walk to my car feeling better than I have in a good while. I feel maybe like Clarence, comforted by the knowledge that I am loved- by lots of people; and blessed and not as alone as I've felt, not as lost.

I feel like I haven't really lost Dad- which I knew but didn't feel. No one can take the Dad out of me.

I guess my take-away from this entire penny deal is this- It doesn't matter what the pennies signify to anyone else. It only matters what it means to me- how it makes me feel. For me it is a huge cosmic hug.

This morning I found this article. I think I agree.


Everyday Miracle- or Rise Up Lazarus

I know, after the past few posts, you're trying to figure out whether your heretofore somewhat normal blogger friend has lost what little hold she had on her sanity. I hate to say this, but I doubt this post is going to do much to reassure you.

The penny thing?

It continues.

I have to admit, finding the second penny in my bed this morning was a bit of a jolt. I mean, that's two days in a row.

But I was able to set it aside, even to almost forget about it as I went about my day, traveling to visit my patients in the nursing homes.

Once there I was met with a host of problems but chief among them was a man who's been beating up staff, swearing, cursing and in general, being an out of control maniac. My friends at the nursing home didn't ask much- they just wanted me to fix him- preferably today.

This gentleman's been on my list of referrals for a month now but everytime I go to interview him, he's off somewhere- in physical therapy or at the hospital. It's always something. Well no such luck today.

There he was in his room- a big guy with thick, beefy hands that looked like they were quite effective at throttling meddlesome social workers.

Strangely enough, to me his hands were the only thing that looked dangerous about him.

He sat hunched in his wheelchair, wearing a pair of old-man striped pajamas and looking very, very sad. I tried to remind myself that the charge nurse said he'd grab me if he could, especially if I bent over him and he could reach a breast! (Which contrary to her position, I see as a sign of health, don't you?)


When I walked into the room and identified myself, he looked up at me like a little, lost boy and I just melted. I pulled a chair up to the narrow bedtable an aide had placed in front of my new patient and looked him right in the eyes.

"It must be awful to find yourself in here," I said.

I had to say this three times, with increasing volume because he is almost deaf. At last, when I was just certain the entire home was listening, he heard and nodded.

"How are you feeling?"

He can't make out what I'm saying, so finally I abandon caution, walk around the cart, lean over him and talk directly into his ear.

About one-third of the time, he seems to understand me...but the rest of the time, he gives me nonsense answers.

At one point he covers the tip of my cowboy boot with his huge foot, smiles and says, "Nice boots. My daughter has a pair like that..." Once again, he seems to drift off into a totally unrelated mumbling and I abandon the thought of doing any cognitive testing- at least for now.

I am thinking of leaving when he suddenly straightens in his chair, looks right at me and says, "Pick up the penny!"

"What?" I ask, not able to believie what I'm hearing.

"Pick up that penny!"

He is as clear as a bell. He points to the floor and repeats, "The penny!"

In light of the past day's penny encounters, I am hypersensitized to any mention of the word "penny."

I drop to the ground on all fours and begin searching the floor for a penny I know isn't there. But still I search throughly- under the bed, under the narrow lip of the heater, everywhere.

My old man is getting increasingly agitated. I can see now how he could really get tough to handle. I try to appease him by following his gaze to the spot on the floor that he's identified as having a penny on it. There is nothing there but I pat the linoleum with my fingers anyway, all the while checking with my patient.

"Here?" I ask. "Here?" I keep moving my hand in widening circles until at last he nods.

"Yes, there! The penny...he..." He mumbles something and I believe I hear the words "he" and "said" or "left" but I can't be sure. "Pick it up!" I hear those words with crystal clarity.

I lift my hand to show him there is no penny and stare at the spot beneath my fingertips.

There on the floor is a penny-sized outlined circle. It is so faint I know my guy can't have seen it. He couldn't even see the 2" letters on the notepad I held up to him five minutes before.

I look up at the ceiling and grin. "All right, Dad," I whisper. "I hear you."

I stroke the faint, dark circle before rising to say goodbye. I rub my new friend's stooped shoulders and tell him I will be back to see him soon. He gives me a sweet grin.

It is not until later, as I am driving away, that I realize the significance of this man being the one to tell me to "Pick up the penny!"

My new patient's name is Lazarus.

More Pennies...

Okay, I'm not a total woo-woo but...there was another penny on my bed this morning!

Teena, now I am officially freaked!

I'd call Ellen...but we all know how I am about phones...still, this may warrant a call!!


"Everywhere I Go It's Raining Pennies From Heaven"

Perhaps I should become an expert in procrastination...

Today, in order to continue my quest to become a penultimate procrastinator, I lost my purse...
You know, that thing we women carry around like a camel's hump- And it is without a doubt as vital and life giving to us as any hump is to a camel.

At lunch, my friend Ellen, nodded sympathetically. She reinforced what we both know to be true- sometimes a purse just needs to be lost. Perhaps I needed a day without bank deposits, shopping or unnecessary driving. Perhaps losing my pocketbook was the universe's way of saying, "Slow down! Relax!"

So the two of us had a leisurely lunch at the Pavilion- a Greensboro institution that I had up until now, never made time to visit. I got to spend time with someone who is wise and serene and a true treasure- again a universe intervention as I always want to spend more time with her than I ever do. We talked about intentions and positive imaging and once again, why I haven't heard from Dad.

"I know, you'd like the dream where it's as real as life, but maybe he's there in little ways," she says.

Because Ellen knows about these things, I really listen. She tells me about a psychic who said sometimes these "signs" take the form of scents or birds or, she says, money.

Now money seems completely incongruous to me. Why would a dead person drop manna from Heaven, so to speak? I mean, it's not like they walk around with spare change in their pockets...or is it?

"Have you found any money in strange places lately?" she asks.

Which is when I remember the penny.

"Well," I said hesitantly, "last night there was a penny on top of my covers as I crawled into bed and I remember putting it on my bedside table so the dog wouldn't get it...At least I thought I did but this morning, there it was back in the bed again."

She nods.

But when she drops me off and goes on to the bookstore I find a penny in the driveway, then one on the sofa in my office. I am looking for my dang purse with no luck but it is totally raining pennies. Everywhere I go I am picking up pennies- not other money, just pennies.

"Very funny, Dad," I mutter. When I search my car and find 4 pennies in a clump on the floor of the back seat, I look up and say, "What? Am I getting hot? Is it under the seat?"

I am being sarcastic but the more pennies I find, the less sure I am about this being coincidence.

I clean up the Christmas decorations- well, I make a path through the den at least and clean the kitchen and mop the floors and find more pennies but no purse.

Finally I sit down to write because really, what else can I do? It's obvious my purse isn't in the house. I give up and try to focus on writing my fiction the same way I do these blogs- from my heart. And just as I get discouraged, the Youngest Unnamed One returns from school.

It is pointless to ask if he's seen my purse- hell, he can't even find his shoes in the morning! But I ask and he says, "Remember, I brought it in here to you last night. You put it on your sofa."

And I remember. I remember coming into the den in the middle of the night because the dogs were snoring in my room. I cleared off the sofa in the darkness and went to sleep. In the morning, still sleep deprived, I folded the sofa back up.

The Youngest Unnamed One and I realize there is only one explanation...The pocketbook fell down the gap as the sofa was opened...and there it is, on the floor exactly where it should be, underneath the sofa.

Along with a penny.

Go figure.


Procrastination in the Name of Research

Christmas Decoration Excuse # 50203

I was daydreaming...

Looking at lake property and thinking of what it would be like to live on the lake and see water gently lapping at my dock while I write the Great American Novel...which by the way I am also not doing!

While some, a lot even, progress has been made on dismantling Christmas, the house looks more like a war zone than ever! But this too shall pass.

I have written 54 first paragraphs of the Great American Novel, aka GAN, but to little avail. My characters just aren't talking to me yet.

I do have however, a cast of interesting folks to inhabit this novel, should it make it that far!

A mom not unlike me who's got 2 boys in college...She's also got an ex-husband named Kevin and found her neighbor, Heather's blue thong underwear in Kevin's briefcase...This precipitated their divorce...Well, duh!

An elderly great-aunt with early Alzheimer's and an old white Victorian in a little lake town in S. Virginia (That's how I can call browsing realtor.com for lake houses "research!")

And her youngest son has just called his mom unexpectedly because he and the mom's great aunt have just been arrested...Seems the aunt's running an adult toy store out of her home, without a permit. She thinks this is doing a public service to her fellow seniors and is incensed that the cops would think otherwise.

The youngest son is just mortified that the cops think he had anything to do with this, but on the other hand, it appeals to his revolutionary side to be in conflict with the authorities.

And our poor beleaguered mom is just looking for a simple life without complications...

Until she arrives in Snow Falls and walks smack into trouble...in the form of one deadly handsome sheriff and....well, who knows?!

What'dya think? Would you want to read about these guys?

Think of it as a bedtime story...What else would you like to see included in this tale I'm telling you? Of course, there's no guarantee it'll get in there once the characters take over!

And none of this is getting the Christmas decorations put up...But in the opening scene, that's what the main character is doing...So at least my chores get done vicariously!

Isn't it fun being a writer?


Another Day, Another Reason Why The Christmas Tree's Still Up

Reason # 48023 for not taking down the Christmas decorations:

I had today organized, really I did. It included taking down and putting away all the decorations, reorganizing the house, grocery shopping, taking Woo-dah (aka Lindy- the puppy who just had a tumor removed from her foot) to the vet for a new bandage and check, going to the bank AND meeting Marti back at the house by noon to REINVENT our ENTIRE lives.

Okay, so Woo-dah and I set out for the vet's, passed the bank and saw- to my chagrin as it was part of my perfectly organized, never go out of my way or retrace my steps plan- it was surrounded by cops and blue lights. It had just been robbed.

Nix the bank for the time being.

The vet was jammed up with someone's torn ACL, so Woo had to stay and I had to return to get her at 3.

Okay, cool. I'm not too off-balance. So, I drive across the street to the grocery store and WHAM! They are having triple coupon weekend. This takes a 6 item shopping list and effectively turns it into a 2 hour extravaganza of careful coupon shopping.

But still I beat Marti back to the house by five minutes and managed to reorganize two shelves of the pantry before we REORGANIZED our ENTIRE lives.

This took a little bit of time.

Somehow it was 3:05 before we ever looked up at the clock and I was late for the vet.

The vet did not go well at all. Somehow there was a glitch with the scheduling and all the patients arrived at once- including an obnoxiously hyperactive 3 year old, his 2 puppies and his biker mama.

It was SRO in the waiting room and at one point a guy comes in and drops off his baby- no lie! He just plops the carrier down in between a group of cat carriers, looks at the kitties' owner and says, "You don't mind, do you? She won't be any trouble!" And then he just leaves!

The entire waiting room went to the window to watch him. Turns out he was trying to juggle a couple of kids and dogs and the baby was just overload. He did return but the little old ladies talked about him for a long time...until someone brought in a 40 lb. cat and that distracted them onto feline obesity and a discussion of the biggest cat they had ever personally seen before this one arrived to take the crown.

I spent most of my time trying to once again figure out how to program my new cell phone and was once again unsuccessful. (Directions are for losers or cheaters.)

And then there was no putting off the inevitable. The pathology report was back and Woo-dah has cancer. The vet painted a pretty grim picture but wants to talk to an oncologist first. The rest of the afternoon was spent googling "Canine Melanoma, treatment, staging and prognosis."

The only bright spot on Woo-dah's horizon is the research and trials being done with gene therapy. Fortunately we are close to one of the research hubs- NC State...But you know, in the midst of all my researching, I couldn't help feeling a bit like I was reliving Dad's diagnosis and my initial reaction to it. I did the same thing, I researched. I pleaded and begged and fought and kicked and it didn't do one bit of good. He still died.

This is the year of creating my reality, of seeing things in a more positive light. To that end, I will not panic until I hear what the oncologist says.

I think I am on grief overload because I just feel numb. In the basement of my soul there is crying and pain and anger that yet again someone I love may be taken away but for now, it is too much and not at all immediate- so I ignore it.

There isn't time for grieving- not with doggie dinners to prepare and a boy to drive across town and a broken-hearted friend to console. There isn't time to feel sorry for myself when Woo-dah herself is dancing across the kitchen floor, daring the younger, bigger dogs to attempt to get between her and her food dish.

And there is most especially not time for taking down Christmas and sorting through bills.


Oh, to be 16 Again!!!

How's that for a picture of true happiness? A Rage Against the Machine T-Shirt, A pink feather tiara and an army jacket blowing out the 16 candles (Hanukkah candles on sale from Tar-jet make great birthday torches!) on his Snickers Ice Cream cake.

That's us...always original and quite often tacky!

I left the cake ordering up to the Eldest Unnamed One and the Double Witch...and they tried to do the right thing...The people at Cold Stone asked how many people would be eating cake, they said 5 and so when I arrived to pick it up- it was tiny...but goooood!

I know, it was the second day of Lose the Halloween Poundage...but I look at it like this: If it's a special occasion or you might never get to eat it again, it's calorie free.

The 2 pieces of Dove dark chocolate I later ate right before bed were just an oh-what-the-hell afterthought.

It was a great cake, a very special occasion and totally worth it.

I just can't believe I only have 2 years left with this precious one before he too abandons ship...er, I mean leaves for college.

Every day he is wiser and funnier and totally one of the great joys of my life. I'm pretty lucky to have such amazing kids.

And I've totally adopted the Double Witch, even if she has stolen the Eldest Unnamed's heart...

Now...onward to defrock the Christmas tree and remove the birthday balloons from the lighting-up reindeer in the front yard!


Dancing Like Barney...Right Into My New Reality

"Be the change you wish to see in the Universe."

Okay, I'm working with this, trying it on for size and having some interesting results.

Things around here had fallen into a bit of a negativity slump. You know- the glass is half-empty versus half-full. I caught myself thinking of my life as a shit sandwich. When you think your life is going down the tubes you tend to look for supporting evidence.

So I was looking at everything that wasn't working and using it as proof that my life indeed sucked.

That's what I looked for, that's what I got.

If I was searching for a bad time, I was certainly successful in cultivating one.

And I am totally over it!

I figure, what can it hurt to reorganize my reality? So for the past few days I've been walking around trying to see the positives-turning the lemons into lemonade.

I must tell you- I'm starting to feel like Barney the Terminally Happy Dinosaur.

Dogs crapped on the rug? Well, at least I didn't step on it!

Stepped on the dog crap? Well, it could be worse...I could've done it in my bare feet.

Stepped on dog crap in my bare feet? Well, I'm totally lucky it didn't have anything sharp in it and was at least still warm! Imagine how icky it would be to step in cold dog dookie with sharp twigs in it!

Oh, you did?! Well, aren't you glad your dog didn't die from ingesting those sharp twigs! And wasn't that a wonderful way of the Universe letting you know that your dog has been consuming potentially dangerous twigs! Boy are you lucky!

While I haven't stepped in any doo-doo, I have seen a wonderful change around here.

Apparently a good attitude is catching...or maybe I just choose to see it that way.

It's been amazingly good for my love life...but that's another story...

And when I have momentarily forgotten my new approach to reality- the people around me are beginning to help out by saying things like "What happened to that positive attitude?" This jars me into perspective and I get back on track.

Now, is it corny beyond belief? Absolutely. Do I feel like a fool? Sometimes. But would I rather die feeling I'd had a happy life or a shit sandwich?

I'm voting for goofy, woo-wah happy.

And if my love life continues to improve...well, I suppose that's just the cross I'll have to bear...



Good Intentions Vs Cruel Resolutions

Ah, the new year...Time for resolutions and turning over new leaves.

This implies looking back over the past year, or perhaps your entire life and resolving to do things differently- as if you've been doing it all wrong and must now fix yourself.


If we must review our lives, why not be more positive- say start with counting a few blessings then move forward to the next steps or goals? Maybe we do like the car companies do- review the 2006 model and tweak it for 2007. At the extreme- a complete model makeover...but then, isn't it really something else and no longer really an Accord or a Corolla? Never mind, I'm digressing!

Anyway- if I'm reviewing my past year my first reaction is to tell you it sucked big time! But really, I suppose it didn't. I suppose there are many blessings to be found in it- like the time I had with Dad, or the way his illness drew me closer to my sister Flea. There was a lot of good in that pain.

Then Cookie died...but before she did, didn't she also give me much more than I hoped to give her? Didn't I learn from both my Dad and Cookie that the important things in life aren't concrete objectives or material possessions? What is important are our relationships and the only thing that travels with us are our memories and feelings. Even when Cookie was losing her hold on her memories, she still recognized and clung to her memories of and love for her children.

Dad said not to listen to a person's answers- instead, listen to their questions. Their passion, their area of interest is revealed in their questions and those questions signify what they feel most passionate about. He said compassion and kindness are everything. He took my hand and placed it on top of my sister's, then added in the rest of the family and my best friends. He patted the stack of hands and his message was crystal clear- stick together-it's important.

I remember the Eldest Unnamed One only a month ago telling me "There are Innies and there are Outies. The Innies don't look to the outside world for validation- they look inside, to what makes them happy, and they follow this. They will never be lost."

So, now I've got to figure out how to take these gifts and apply them to my own life. Given what I've learned over the past year, what am I going to add to the 2007 model of me? What will take me in a direction that brings me closer to those things I feel most passionate about?

My boys are growing. The eldest will leave next fall and his brother will follow him in 2 short years. When I started writing, I thought I'd become wealthy enough to have a beach house for family vacations. Well, we take vacations but we don't own a beach house. Maybe I need to look at creating a home where my boys will want to bring their own kids- the way my father created a haven for us and we always flocked to him at every occasion.

He created this home in his heart and that's what truly drew us to him...but his surroundings didn't hurt- first the lake house and then the condo in a vacation resort. It's time to plan this for my own future.

The second area of my life that could use a little tweaking is my writing. For someone who feels so passionately about writing, I sure don't do a lot of it! Oh sure, I write here but I'm not creating new fiction. Blogging has been a way for me to explore a new way of writing. It's time to translate that onto paper. How do I translate my journal honesty into fiction?

Beats the hell out of me!

But if Mama don't write no fiction, Mama can't buy no beach or lake house! Mama will have to continue working long hours at jobs that worship the almighty paperwork and not the creative juices...Time for a change...or as the Eldest Unnamed One is often overheard to say- "Work smarter, not harder!"

Sure, I intend to lose the extra pounds I put on celebrating the holidays- but I'm not going to treat myself like I've been bad and need to starve my poor body back to "health." Nope, I'm going to do the things that make me happy and trust the Universe to keep me too happy and busy to sit around shoveling in sugar!

So, thanks Universe! I can't wait to finish the best book I've ever written and move to the sweetest little cottage this side of Utopia!

In the meantime...I've got to find out what happened to my staff. They were supposed to report early this morning to take down the 500 million Christmas decorations!

Sigh. They must be out following their own best intentions!