Full disclosure: I am a hair freak. Anyone who knows me can tell you I am a royal pain about my hair — and always have been. Winter hats and good hair days don’t mix; neither does humidity, which obviously precludes southern living. And hair is the reason I’d never get a convertible.
A friend, used to hearing my sudden outbursts about needing a haircut NOW, once perceptively asked ‘what’s wrong?” What? Nothing’s wrong – except my HAIR! But, after we hung up, I thought about it. She was right. Yes, it IS all about my hair.
All over the world, hair documents different life phases, from personal evolutions to ways of expressing life events. In a weird way, hair, every single strand of it, echoes life, death and rejuvenation. People worldwide express grief and sadness through their hair, either consciously changing it or completely losing it during a life crisis. (No, I’m not talking about bad haircut grief – that’s another tale) The Sioux cut off all their hair in a time of mourning, (sorry, honey, but no, not even for you.) Celts believed hair had magical powers and the Cree claim hair is another part of the soul. Now that would almost justify my fixation.
When things in my life are most out of control, I’ve always wanted to just grab a scissors and snip away. No, I’m not THAT crazy but I have been known, to my hairdresser’s chagrin, to make little ‘tweaks’ when her calendar is booked. What could go wrong? Normally, I remember to “keep calm and call the hairstylist’ but you know those days when you just have to have chocolate NOW? Well, substitute hair. Continue reading
My husband’s passions netted a heck of a lot of ‘stuff’. No, not just a few things – an entire room of them! Along with his legendary toy soldier collection, he also amassed authentic reproductions of antique planes, old tops and more marbles than the entire planet could play with. But his menagerie of little planes, soldiers and marbles kept the boy alive in the man I loved. Okay, it was a money pit but who can put a price on a passion? Or measure the innocent happiness it gave a guy who went through constant medical challenges. When Dr. Suess said said “Adults are obsolete children” he probably knew that sometimes child play is exactly that we need.
I am not wired with a collector’s brain. When I saw my guy’s glee over in yet another new soldier or collector’s marble, I confess it often hit my ‘crazy button’. In my world, especially during my time as a single mom, necessities always trumped disposable expenditures. There was no room in a home where three growing kids needed new underwear, sports fees or the million other endless expenses for the frivolous. Even as an empty nest boomer now, there still isn’t. But these days, I think more and more that maybe I just never had the yen for a passion. Like all busy mothers and wives, I never had much time to think about exploring my ‘passion’ but at my age now, it’s if not now – when?
The 64 thousand dollar question? What IS my passion? Sure my mind swirls constantly with tons of ideas. My DIY list is chock full of stuff I could, should, might be doing. Write a book? Why not? Unearth those colored pencils and illustrate again? I can do that. Take my ancestry search on the road to discover my roots? Learn to finally use my tricked-out camera? Yes, please. Every one is a passion contender, one that could easily become an obsession. Uh oh. Continue reading
“I don’t want to belong to any club that wants me as a member.” Good ol’ Groucho Marx pretty much hit the nail on the head about my reluctance to join groups. Just ask my hefty posse of friends who know me all too well. They’ll tell you I’m just not much of a joiner type. It has nothing to do with the groups. Maybe I’m just allergic to meeting minutes, or having to commit to regular times on the calendar. That being said, though, I have made exceptions.
After my husband died, my church’s pastor suggested I jump into my parish grief support group, so I went – once. To be fair, it was a good idea in theory and there were lovely people there. They also seemed a lot older and their memories longer since their entire adult lives were spent with one partner. Still, I could have worked with that, since grief is always a common denominator. No, the deal breaker was the fact that the meeting was held in the same exact room my husband and I sat for 9 years when we ran a cancer support group. Fidgeting a few spots away from the very same couch we sat on, month after month as facilitators, I kept glancing at the now empty space. I couldn’t help envision my husband, animated, always gracious and thinking to myself ‘what the hell am I doing here?’.
I couldn’t leave fast enough.
Born. Died. He was here – and then he wasn’t. For every name in the cemetery, what separates the dates of birth and death — is a dash, a line that connects all the living in between. A dash not only separates a whole bunch of years but also connects all we were meant to be. At least that’s what we hope for anyway.
A dash says ‘you were here’. You toddle around in diapers, go to school, run headlong into becoming an adult. And then what? Dates of graduation, wedding, children born are markers that all fall into the living. Jobs are listed on resumes, annotated with a succession of start and end dates. Even vacations are hyphenated periods of time we set aside to explore and relax.
How about marriage? The years spent with the person we marry carry their own dash. Sometimes they stretch far into the horizon; other times years can only be the length of an eyelash. However long or short, the dash attaches pieces of our all parts of our lives. Fortunately, even though my husband and I didn’t get much mileage out of the dash that strung our marriage years together, we had a small but pretty cool chunk of the ‘before’. Now the dash is in my court. And, at the moment, I can’t predict what it will say about me. Continue reading
Your memoir – in six words. What a concept! When I read “Not Quite What I Was Planning” a few years ago, I thought it was genius. The clever little nuggets spilling from that book were profound, odd, funny and powerful. I knew that those who wrote them, both famous and not-so-famous, were really onto something. Just imagine, an entire life compressed in succinct 6-word verbiage. I began to think of everything in the smallest set of words possible. Waiting on the phone through 10 degrees of voicemail, or sitting in traffic, I thought of everything in 6 word increments.
Condensing words to a powerful, precious few is hardly new. Centuries ago, Confucius, said, “One joy dispels a hundred cares” and people through the ages recognized that verbosity isn’t a requisite for memorable statements. As a copywriter, I’m used to compacting messages. I can stuff ten pounds of thought into a clever five-pound bag and transform a stiff company mission statement into a sharp tagline. But reading this book gave the process a whole new meaning. While more than a few of the ingenious memoirs made me laugh out loud, I realized that they were also terrific creative self-analysis. Super cool. Continue reading
“Spring is God’s way of saying – ‘one more time’.” Robert Orben
Fiendishly fluffy bunnies. Cavity inviting chocolates. Treats in colors that don’t exist in nature. Enough cheerful Easter goodies are born each year to fill baskets of every dimension. They make it hard to remember the holiday is anything more than a Hallmark moment. But Easter is a season, a timeless, ancient season of being reborn, renewed and transformed.
The oldest Christian holiday, Easter focuses on Christ’s triumph over death while the Hebrew Passover commemorates freedom from enslavement. No matter which you celebrate, both converge in a message of hope.
Like nature’s seasons, life, too, is indeed short. Remembering its transience makes our own, and every life around us, even more valuable. That transience of life is symbolized colorfully each spring in Japan, when the appearance of cherry blossoms signal the festival of Hanami. Like the cherry blossom, each and every life brings color to the world. When lives are lost, summer is drained of sunlight, autumn becomes colorless and winter is long and empty to the loved ones who remain behind. Eventually, the weather turns mild and the season graduates to one of hope. That’s why spring is so much more than fuzzy little chicks and bright pink peeps. It symbolizes an exodus from dark times; a delivery from despair. Pretty apt for people who grieve. Continue reading
I never joined the circus. Actually, I’ve never even been much of a fan. Too many rings to watch at once. Too many nail biting high wire acts. Too many animals tethered and tamed instead of wild and free. And the clowns, yikes, the clowns. Maybe I was just a weird kid, but the circus was never a big ‘must see’.
Still, I must say I felt a teeny bit sad when the 146 year old Barnum and Bailey Circus recently pulled up stakes for good. But, hey, even the biggest show on earth would have a hard time competing with the red, white and blue Big Top of — politics.
If, like me, watching more than one thing at a time makes you dizzy, refer to your program and buckle up. There’s enough action under the Big Top these days to make your head spin. Precarious high wire acts. Slights of hand. Tricks that can keep you stranded in the air with no safety net. From acrobats to animal trainers, no one seems to like each other very much but every one is worth watching.
High flying tricks emerge energetically from every spotlit ring. Some are intriguing’ others could turn catastrophic in a heartbeat. All the balls are in the air and where they land no one knows – yet. We watch every act with interest or fear, approval or upset. Performers go through flaming hoops or emerge from clown cars. And we’re left to wonder what (or who) is going to bounce off the trampoline. Welcome to life under the Big Top. Continue reading