Friday, March 30, 2012


exhaustion--the other side of motherhood
It's hard to be honest sometimes--certainly with others but mostly with myself. Growing up one thing that was never tolerated was any kind of untruth, and I have always prided myself on my honesty. But as I grow older I'm learning that honesty isn't quite so easy to quantify, that there are many layers in a human heart and mind, and that just figuring out what's happening within--much less admitting it--can be excruciating and at times impossible.

The important thing to realize is that without honesty no relationship will flourish--it may appear to, but it is growth without foundation, foliage without roots. Whether it is friendship, romance, or collaboration, honesty must suffuse the relationship.

Honesty of thought, acknowledging truthfully to myself what I'm actually thinking, admitting and allowing myself to feel rage, frustration, love, appreciation, fear, confusion. Honesty of action, within the bounds of courtesy letting my movements speak truly of my inner state, without resorting to the hidden games of banging doors, manipulating, crowding, or clinging. Honesty of speech, actually saying what I mean without letting it build until it explodes the doors of my soul and decimates others, communicating as much as possible exactly what I think and not trying to couch the words in roundabout phrases that might shelter me from conflict.

I must acknowledge that while I see the importance of honesty, I often don't know how to live it.

What do you think about honesty? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

What I Wish I'd Known As a Teenager

Teen Week 2012 is a blog project hosted by body image warrior Medicinal Marzipan. Bloggers from around the world will be posting on topics related to self-esteem in teenage-hood. I'm honored to participate.

Growing up in a very conservative setting as I did, clothes were a big problem for me as a teenager. It was the late 90's, and I desperately wanted to fit in. All around me I saw stylish girls wearing tight pants, form-fitting tops, earrings, makeup, and elaborate nails. That was outside, 'in the world'. Closer to home were long loose skirts, loose tops, long hair, no makeup, and very little jewelry. These two images clashed horribly within me. The first was labeled "pretty" and "popular" in my mind and the second "holy" and "right".

What makes me sad now is that I never looked within for direction--and this wasn't only in the area of fashion. I was caught between a couple of boxes in the 'what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up' department as well. It was either 'have a career' or 'be a mom'. Neither of which appealed to me all that much, to be frank. But somehow it never occurred to me that I was unique. I had a unique style, a unique perspective, and a unique destiny. No one could tell me who I was--only I could find myself.

And so this is what I say to teenaged girls everywhere: Figure yourselves out. Don't be afraid to try different clothes on, and different accents. Read books and learn what other people outside your world are doing. Go to thrift stores or learn to sew your own clothes. Learn new hobbies, make new friends. And don't be ashamed to be different from those around you. It may cause pain--you may be rejected, you may make faux-pas, you may become horribly embarrassed. But if you can be yourself, imperfect and lovely, you will find that freedom grows around you. You'll be too big to be boxed in by a movement or a fad. You can't be labeled, you can't be ignored.

For those of us who left the teen years behind years ago, I say the same. We can only be ourselves--let's be the best we can be.

Meet Toots!

Her name, which has been long forgotten in the slurry of fatuous nicknames, is Miss Moppet. She suits it—a pert gray cat with spotless white stockings and breast. There are faint tracings of khaki among the gray, which give her a mottled look. Behind her ears and under her front legs the fur is long and curly, with a greasy appearance which might come from being hard to reach and mostly unlicked.
She blends with her people’s house—a soft-pawed princess among the deep browns of antique wood and leather, the various shades of dusky green on the walls, and the rough natural stone tile the color of her left eyebrow. Not only does Miss Moppet blend with the house, but she rules it with an aplomb unknown to any human except one who lives a life petted and adored, without pause, from dawn ‘til dusk.
There is a certain imperious glare she wears at times. Her long slanting eyes grow round, deep yellow orbs divided in the middle by a slender slit of black, ringed about with dark fur which looks like kohl, artistically applied. Her subjects watch her and snicker, but this does not diminish the unmatched air of hauteur about her. The fact that one of her white eyebrow-hairs has a kink in it doesn’t either.
Her life is one of alternate frenzy and indolence. Early in the morning when her oldest human—tall, yawning, with big hairy toes and a yearning for coffee—stumbles down the stairs she is waiting, throwing disdainful glances over her shoulder but eager for a gentle massage, enjoying the feel of his wide-knuckled hands entwined in her fur and the sound of his low rumbling whisper.
There is a brief spate of wildness then, a few high-pitched yowls and the keen enjoyment of racing across the wide wooden-floored hallway with the sound of a small thunder and leaping to the windowsill in the kitchen where she can gradually allow her fur to settle and her bottle-washer of a tail to shrink and begin a slight spasmodic twitching.
Sleep—fuzzy, warm, engrossing sleep—strikes her then and she settles on the rose-colored velvet of her woman’s antique chair where, unless disturbed by the descent of adoring children, she naps in comatose oblivion for hours.
Lately she has become an ornithologist, as the elements conspired together to bring her a new hobby. Six inches of ice and snow outside drove hordes of birds to the feeder outside the schoolroom window. She waits with rear end wiggling until several of the winged mice have settled their frozen feet on the red plastic of the feeder. And then with perfect timing comes the sudden leap, the hollow thud against the window, and the startled birds streaking for the sky in alarm. It is the thrill of her day.
Two of her people are writers, and she enjoys curling up in the sun (which highlights in perfect detail each strand of whisker springing from just above her curving lip) to the music of the faint clatter of fingers on keyboard, the long pauses for inspiration, and the occasional groan.
There are two professional musicians among her people, and she has slept through many a scale and arpeggio, many an anguished hour of slow practicing. Currently there are all the octaves and broken thirds of the Beethoven violin concerto to lure her into sleep, but last month it was the soaring melody of the Saint-Saëns’s Rondo Capriccioso.
 By her luxurious presence she brings much light and delight into the lives of the people around her, one of whom, in a bleak moment of writer’s block, decided to sketch the furry puddle lying beside her in the sun.
An easy task, and enjoyable.