Good Mistakes

epcotWith all of the sad, horrific news of the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hesitant to take pen to paper, or better said, fingers to keyboard, to create a post.  As with past times of crisis and devastation, I grapple with the appropriateness of topics.  Clearly no one needs to hear my views on the topics du jour. No one needs me to recount yet AGAIN everything the news has repeatedly bombarded into our ears, eyes and hearts.  And yet it seems somehow irreverent or callus to talk about my usual typical real woman topics like the struggles we face with grocery shopping, maintaining our homes, running errands, wearing unwrinkled clean clothes and the relationships in our lives.  Suddenly our daily challenges seem so inconsequential and superfluous.  I, along with so many right now, feel the need to be so careful about what we say and how we act to remain respectful of the pain of others.

Until we realize we are human. And sometimes we slip up. Even in the worst of times, we may do something seemingly inappropriate and find out that those errors, those interruptions in communications, are just what we all need.

There is a story circulating about an editor at NPR who posted three cute and amusing sentences about a baby named Ramona and her cats to his Facebook Account.  Except he didn’t post it to his personal account as intended. He posted it to NPR’s Account, where it was viewable by….well, pretty much the world.  We’ve all had those moments, especially in this day of social media and technology at our finger tips, when we have mistakenly hit “Reply All”, or broadcasted something that was intended for only a select few, and that gut-wrenching terror we feel when we’ve realized our mistake is brutal.  We break out in sweats, we try to find a way to do a retraction, we worry about losing our jobs, or ruining relationships, and we construct heartfelt apologies.  Which is exactly what Mr. Hopkins did. He issued an apology.  The outpouring of responses was immediate – people loved having something cute break through the clutter of back to back tragedies and give them a smile.  Soon Ramona hashtags popped up, as have requests for ongoing Ramona stories and updates.  People have been suggesting Mr. Hopkins receive a raise for being so brilliant as to shed some cheer in a time when we all needed it.

This makes me think of the BBC interview from earlier this year when a gentleman’s children interrupted his live on-air discussion.  It was not only adorable, but hysterical when viewers saw another adult chasing after them and falling through the door in Kramer-like fashion to retrieve them.

As many of us say about our day to day lives, “you just can’t make this stuff up.”   Life happens.  And lucky for us, life is not all bad all the time. We need to be reminded that it is ok to smile, to laugh, to celebrate each other, and sometimes laugh at ourselves.  I believe that not a day goes by when there is not something goofy or silly happening somewhere, and that is a very good thing.

Yesterday at work, while I was on the phone with a co-worker, I was attempting to multi-task and reach for something in a box under my desk without either putting down the phone or putting on my cordless headset, which would have made more sense.  In this process, I scooted forward, yet my chair did not – what happened next was a very slow, very clumsy non-ballet-esque fall of sorts. I ended up on my butt, still carrying on the conversation, hoping that none of my on-site co-workers had heard my slow descent nor seen it.  Later that night, I remembered my odd tumble and told my husband about it, which of course he found amusing.  This morning he offered to give me a pillow to take with me in case I fall out of my chair again and needed something to land on.  Funny man.

Since I luckily avoided an audience, my clumsiness was not quite as dramatic and embarrassing as years ago when I crashed through a security gate on my bicycle.  But that’s a story for another day.  The point is, we make mistakes. We fumble when we speak, we create typos – some small, some big, like this one recently seen at Disney World.  We have blonde moments (yes, even you brunettes, I know it happens to you too!).  We post pictures of our children or dogs in professional presentations. We fall out of chairs. Yes, some errors are serious and create problems. But many, many others – the minor faux pas we do every day – are just good opportunities to smile.

Our oop’ses remind us that it is ok to celebrate our human-ness, and embrace the little things that give us a reason to laugh.

Or give us sore bottoms. Either way.


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Taking a Break From Adulting

SONY DSCI know I’m supposed to be a grown up. And most days I’m pretty successful at pulling it off. Like so many other Real Women, I run around taking care of people, being a good worker bee, maintaining our home, running countless chores, unsuccessfully dieting, trying to have a style other than wrinkled yoga pants, self-coloring my hair, encouraging my son to do his homework so I don’t have to try to assist with Algebra, being a crazy fur parent, attempting to stay up on current events, and in general being a responsible adult.

Once in a while, though, I’d like to stop adulting. Not because of the work, or the responsibilities, or the taking care of others, or even the dieting. Well, ok, that last one is a lie, I miss being able to eat whatever I want. And I could do with out grocery shopping and having to pay bills. But otherwise I’m fine with most of what we all have to deal with, and enjoy my role in life. What brings me to the point of wanting to go hide in a blanket fort under the dining table is the incessant barrage of bad news and controversy we see and hear every time we turn on our TV, computers, phones, or pick up a magazine.   We can’t even escape the craziness by watching our favorite shows or sports – politics, anger, frustrations and worries have seeped their way into what used to be our safe zones.

It’s not like bad news and scary national and world events are new. After all, I was a child during events like Watergate, the Iran hostages, Three Mile Island, Son of Sam, the deaths of Elvis and John Lennon, the Jonestown massacre and the Eruption of Mount St. Helens. The difference was that there was no daily internet connection, no social media, only 4 tv channels, a couple daily newspapers and radio. We got our updates when we could, and carried on. We had other distractions. And, best of all, I was a kid. I had a vague comprehension of what was going on outside my personal world; but I could leave the grown ups to discuss Nixon, Ted Bundy, or the gas shortage and I could go play with friends and pretend to be Wonder Woman or a horse or a dancer. I could go play basketball with my brother in the driveway, or play board games with my BFF. I could close myself in my room and put on my favorite records and dance and sing like I was performing on a stage. I could climb up in my favorite tree with a book until mom called me down for supper.

So on days when I just don’t want to listen anymore to the ugliness, and I miss being able to tune out and go into my childish world, I take a few cues from the old days and find other forms of distraction. After hearing the first round of key news stories in the morning, I turn the channel or turn off the tv. I follow more dogs on social media than humans – I scroll past all of the angst-ridden rants until I find a cute video of a puppy, kitten, or prancing goat. My family and I have even stooped so low as to start watching Family Feud while making dinner. It is ridiculously goofy and downright stupid and mindless. We shout out answers, until I have to remind my husband that the contestants can’t hear us. I don’t climb trees anymore, but I do go for bike rides, or take the dog for a walk. I don’t dance in my bedroom, but I do crank my favorite tunes while cleaning the house or driving, and sing along. I don’t do a BFF sleepover every weekend, but I will get together with other RW’s for supper, or shopping, or just relaxing, and all current events topics are off the table. Instead we talk about girl things, family life, food, and our pets. Eventually, through each of these moments of time, we reach the point that at least briefly we can forget about leaders and dictators trying to out-bully each other, or who said what and who was insulted by it, or what next danger lurks around the corner.

I think as long as we can all take turns between being on watch as the adults we are, and shutting down to play like a child, we’ll preserve our sanity and our energy. We all from time to time need to be able to mentally and emotionally climb into our blanket fort and feel safe, calm and happy. Then when it is time for dinner, we can come back out into the big world, pull up our big girl pants, turn the news back on and go back to being adults.

Just don’t judge me too harshly if I’m still clinging to my teddy bear.


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Spray Bottle Therapy

cleaningIt has been a very busy summer. Although I’m thankful to have a full and active life, I’m happy that we are starting to get back into our usual routines with more time at home. While we’ve been running around for the past few weeks, home maintenance, especially house cleaning, has been cursory at best. I’d fly through when I had the chance to run a quick vacuum or sweep up the biggest clumps of dog hair, but it had reached the point where I felt it necessary to apologize if anyone stopped by.

Friday evening, we had a couple of friends over, and my R.W. friend and I were sharing neglected home stories. With a look on her face that meant she was sure I’d think she was crazy, she said “I actually like to clean. I find it therapeutic.” Then she told me that on Saturday morning, she was planning to get up, put on old clothes, put her hair up in a bun, turn on her favorite music, and clean. I said “Me too!”

I don’t think she’s crazy. Well, any crazier than I am, anyway. I know some RW’s out there would rather poke their eyes out than spend a Saturday cleaning. But I know there are plenty of others out there who, like us, find it…well — like she said –therapeutic. Perhaps it’s not the act of cleaning itself as much as the satisfaction of getting it done. In our crazy hectic lives, sometimes it feels like the one thing we can control is the cleanliness of our surroundings. We can take a break from everything else in our worlds and do some nesting. It is an action that immediately shows positive and noticeable results, and can actually make us feel calmer.  Sure, it also can make us feel back and knee pain, and cause chipped nails, but there’s nothing like a clean, fresh smelling house.

I realized this weekend while doing my Cinderella impersonation (minus the ball gown), that unlike other activities, cleaning for me is not the time to brood. When I go out for a walk or a bike ride, or maybe a long drive, or even take a shower, I will work through big stuff in my head. I do some of my very best thinking during any of those activities. But when it comes to cleaning therapy time, I go easy on myself. I turn on my playlist and go on a sort of comfortable auto-pilot. The men in the house usually find other things to do because a) they get nervous when I go into white tornado mode, b) they don’t care for my music choice and c) I’m singing.

Rather than solve any big problems as I work my way through the various rooms, here are some examples of the less than profound considerations that run through my head: Why does some of the soap scum and mildew in my shower turn pink? Is it some kind of science experiment going on in there?   Why is it that men have an apparatus they can point, and a large target, yet apparently lack any aiming skills? How would this room look if we painted it mauve? Is it weird that I like the smell of Simple Green? Those bananas are going bad, I think I’ll make bread. I need to add more Styx to my playlist. Mom was right, as soon as you start to clean the kitchen floor, someone in the family needs to walk through the room. Why is my dog not bald after shedding this much? Apparently my house plants could survive in the Mohave Desert, because I forgot to water them and they are still alive.

About half way through my private therapy session on Saturday morning, I thought about my RW friend and considered texting her to share one of my keen cleaning observations. But I had failed to mention to her that first on my to do list was to sleep in, and she had likely been up much earlier and was already sitting down to bask in the glory of her clean home. And I was not going to interrupt that sacred moment.

Of course that’s all it is, just a moment. We aren’t delusional enough to think it will last. Soon we will be cringing when someone walks in from outside, dropping grass clippings or dirt off their shoes, or the dog will happily shake and roll himself on his favorite rug in the living room, replacing all the fur I just vacuumed up. Miscellaneous stuff will start to assemble on every flat surface, dust will collect around electronics, food crumbs will assemble on counter tops, something will get spilled in the oven, socks and shoes will pile up in the corner, toilet paper rolls will run out, and dirty dishes will magically re-appear in the sink. The house will once again take on that look and odor of being lived in. And that’s ok. We don’t live in a sterile museum, we live in a busy home.

But for that brief glimpse of time, I will sit to rest my back, take a deep breath and enjoy a nice clean smell, admire the vacuum marks in the carpet, the lack of cobwebs in the corners, and I will feel calm, refreshed… cleansed. I will be in control of my castle.

Then I will be ready to let reality back in.




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Hidden Treasures

treasureWe recently sold our old bedroom furniture to help fund a new set.  The old pieces were ugly, heavy, and not an efficient use of space.  They came into my life along with my husband (although he’s cute, not heavy, and very efficient); we’ve been married almost twenty years, so we felt justified in making the change.

As we worked to clean out all of the drawers, I told my husband that two or three of the drawers in the bureau I had used since we’ve been together stopped closing all the way a long time ago.  I knew there must be something stuck behind them, but the drawers did not come all the way out easily, so I had never been able to fish whatever it was, out.  Knowing we couldn’t sell it without fully closing drawers, we spent some time taking the back off, attempting to remove drawers, and tipping it on end.  After the first three pairs of socks made their appearance, we thought we were in the clear.  No such luck. In the end, we rescued a grand total of 15 pairs of socks, three camisoles, a bra, and two small travel cosmetic bags. Clearly I was trying to pack too much into the oddly small drawers. One would think I would have missed each of those items – but remember, this is about twenty years worth of a collection.  I did frequently wonder how I was going through athletic socks so quickly, but had just assumed either they were in the black hole of the laundry, or perhaps my son had used them when he was younger and smaller.  Out of my husband’s dresser, we rescued just one pair of wayward shorts, and several handfuls of b-b’s that had come from my stepson’s b-b gun several years ago.

When we pulled the furniture away from the walls we of course found additional parts and pieces, and enough dust and filth to disgust us and send us running for the shop-vac.  Greeting cards, cosmetics, several dog toys (his tennis ball collection just doubled in size), a matchbox car, and a few safety pins and paper clips were among the dusty rubble.  That space behind any large, heavy piece of furniture and the wall is a no-man’s land.  The only time I’ve attempted to retrieve items is when I’ve dropped something of value, like a piece of jewelry.  I even at one point bought one of those long-handled grabber tools to rescue important items.  But as for other small things, when I’ve been aware they fell back there, it was more of a “oh well, there it goes forever.”

Besides being a sign of our apparent clumsiness, I think any clean out surprises us by admitting to the bizarre stuff we all tend to collect and hold on to, or bury in dark drawers like a dog buries bones.  Desk drawers can yield all sorts of treasures, and I’m fairly certain that the majority of us have a self-proclaimed “Junk Drawer” in our kitchen, workshop, or office.  I bravely attempt to clean out our kitchen junk drawer once a year or so, and inevitably find things like old stamps, broken fridge magnets, crumpled photos, a rubber band ball, keys to who-knows-what, and batteries – likely used, possibly dead.  Why the majority of these things find their way into a drawer instead of the trash, who knows.  Unfortunately I have yet to stumble upon a misplaced wad of cash in any drawer or piece of furniture… I guess you have to have it in the first place to lose it.  We can’t all be lucky like Eric Stonestreet finding goodies in Ellen’s couch:

What I don’t understand is if we are able to find things like pairs of socks in bureau drawers, then what’s up with the washer and dryer?  I have a collection of mate-less and odd items on the top of my clothes dryer.  Right now I believe I have four socks (none the same), and two winter gloves (also not matching).  Where do the other halves go???  Do they go through a laundry portal to end up in someone else’s house?  Do they sneak off to have parties under the bed?  How is it that the mates don’t turn up in the next load of laundry?  I’m sure at some point in my past, I’ve grown weary of spares, thrown them away, only to have the twin show up three months later.  So for now I’ve started this new collection of items adorning the top of my dryer, as if they are a display of valuable collectibles to be gazed upon every time I’m doing my Cinderella duties in the basement.  Someday, somehow, the missing sock’s Prince Charming mate will arrive, after riding around inside a pant leg, or after being fetched from the bottom of a closet, or possibly having been used as a rag in hubby’s workshop.

As for the gloves….well, perhaps I’ve learned something from my recent bedroom bureau experience. I have a hunch that those missing partners may be lost in the back of the winter gear drawers in the hallway.  I seem to remember one isn’t closing all the way…..oh my, I wonder what else I will find.  I may need reinforcement — better call Indiana Jones.




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What If

scrapbooksThis has been a difficult week to watch the news. Most weeks aren’t easy, but this is the kind of week when we need to have a box of tissues nearby. The devastation in Texas has been heart-breaking, and for those of us many miles away, hard to fathom. What’s different from other news stories is that we don’t have someone we can be mad at, or to blame. We can’t focus our anger at a crazy Korean dictator, or at our own politicians – at least not for this issue. This is a natural disaster. It does no good to get mad at the weather, it is out of our control.

So instead we feel sad, we feel scared, we feel anxious, and in a true example of decent humanity, we all want to help. In the meantime, all we can do is watch and hope and pray that there are not more casualties, and cheer for every successful rescue of both humans and animals.

We real women make a daily habit out of worrying. Even when there is not a natural disaster happening, we worry that there could be one. We think about the “what if’s”. And when we see our fears come true for others, that worrying and “what if-ing” gets even stronger. What if massive flooding happened to us, or to our loved ones? We watch interviews with those who are going through it, and palpably feel their relief when they and their family members are safe. Because that’s the most important thing, of course, is personal safety of loved ones. I saw one touching image of a 90-year old woman praying with her rescuers. We repeat that mantra of “things can be replaced, people can’t.” But perhaps that is easy for those of us who are at a distance, to say. We didn’t just watch all of our belongings literally get washed out of our house. We don’t have over four feet of water filling our homes. Yes, they may physically be safe, but many have lost everything else. That’s not ok.

I, like many other sometimes irrationally concerned real women, have often thought about what I would do if we were told that something disastrous was coming… a flood, a wild fire, a hurricane. If we were told to evacuate, or we were told we had only a few minutes or hours to somehow prepare or pack up our essentials, what would we take with us? What truly would be the most important “things” to carry with us if we could? This is assuming, of course, that the members of our household are with us and safe. What of the “stuff” in our lives?

I have from time to time half joked with my husband and son that if God Forbid anything should happen to the house, they are to grab all of my scrapbooks and take them with us. Unless we have the time and space to fill our cargo van, this is not a realistic request in times of emergency. But those really are part of what I’d want to keep with me, because they contain photos and memories. I suppose more realistically I’d grab my purse and wallet, my laptop, a couple changes of clothing. medications and food and water. Beyond that, what really do we need? My cool shoes? Don’t think so. My jewelry? Even though I have some nice pieces, the only ones I’d really miss are the ones that mean something because of who gave them to me. Small appliances? Not helpful to carry around.

Ironically, this week we are working on cleaning out our house to have a tag sale this weekend. I’ve been repeatedly asking myself and my guys “do we need this?” I had grown tired of clutter, and I felt the need to get the proverbial shovel out. It amazes me the amount of stuff we hang on to, for virtually no reason at all. Things we haven’t used or touched, things we have multiples of, things we think we may “some day” use yet haven’t needed in at least three years. The biggest challenge with the clean out, of course, are the things to which we are somehow emotionally tied. I have bins in my basement of memorabilia of when my son was a baby and little boy. Clothing, toys, stuffed animals, books… carefully selected and stored away. Why? Because I can’t let go of them. They represent too many memories. I tell myself that some day he may use them for his own children. But the realistic side of me knows that likely won’t be the case, he’ll get all new stuff for my grandchild. Or there’s the bin of antique silver and china handed down to me from my mother or grandmother or aunt. Again, I doubt my son will ever use any of it, but still it sits tucked away in my basement.

Some things are easier to put in the tag sale piles – like do we really need a back-up toaster? Or a dozen mis-matched old cups and mugs? What about old movie posters, board games and extra holiday decorations?   Nope, nope and nope. None of those items are making it on my keep list, nor would they in any way be on my emergency-take-it-with you list.

However, after the past few days, I am looking at some of my stuff through a new lens. I’m realizing that some of what I currently consider to be junk, could be useful to someone who has just lost everything. And so a new pile is emerging: items to be donated. Because even though people can’t be replaced and items can, sometimes in life we need help from others to make the replacements happen when we need them most.


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Situational Dress Up

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI get it. As we move through our phases of life, our personal styles change – mostly because our bodies, preferences and moods seem to shift like the wind. And, at some point we reach a time when “age appropriate dressing” is a thing. Obviously the clothing I wore in my 20’s would in no way look good on me thirty years later, and I have begrudgingly accepted this. Although I do from time to time see other women out there who didn’t get that memo, and more power to them. Perhaps they have a magical mirror in their home which I lack.

There are of course other factors at play that influence our ever-changing closets. Careers, social activities and hobbies can cause us to make fairly drastic edits to our bodily adornments. This past weekend I was shopping with a friend, and she was explaining that they were instituting a revised dress code at her work, encouraging an overall movement to look more corporate and dressy than many of them had in the past. While she looked at suits, I looked at business casual. She would hold up a cute blouse and say “I suppose I could wear this on weekends” and my response was “I could wear that to the office.”

Beyond our jobs, though, is what I’d call Situational Style. When I was younger, I had reasons to dress up fairly often for events like graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and special parties. Now that I’m older, most of our activities are more casual – outdoor events, BBQ’s, gatherings at the homes of friends… very rarely do I need something dressy. I haven’t needed the infamous “little black dress” in years.

But once in a while, there is the need to take it up a notch. I have attended two parties this summer that required a dress, and this weekend we will be attending the wedding of the daughter of dear friends. Being a typical girly-girl, I look forward to dress-up moments. The men in my life, however, not so much. When my son was a baby and toddler, I had great fun dressing him in all sorts of adorable and snazzy outfits – because he at the time had no say in the matter nor preference. But times change.

Since we are on a budget, we try to make do with what we can find in our closets, and add accessories as needed. In an effort to avoid last minute panic, earlier this week I asked both my husband and my son to look at what they have to determine what they can wear to the wedding, and to determine if we need to make a Kohl’s run for new shirts or pants. Here’s how some of that process went:

My son: “Well, like what should I wear? A dress shirt and nice pants?”

Me: “Yes, like a pair of dress slacks or khaki’s and a button-down nice shirt – but you could probably do short sleeves.”

Son, with sharp intake of breath. “Uhhhh, khaki’s would be tough. The ones I have don’t fit anymore.”

Me, inwardly thinking this is why I’ve asked you to clean out your closet: “Ok, do you have other nice pants?”

Son: “Umm… maybe…. I think so. But what should I wear for shoes?”

Me: “You have those nice tan shoes, do those still fit?”

Son, my teen fashion-forward young man, making a face: “Oh, those wouldn’t match my dress pants at ALL….”

Me, sighing: “Well, sort through what you have tomorrow so if we have to go get something new, we’ll still have time.” Clearly knowing, of course, that this process has only just begun, and a solution will only happen shortly before we have to pack to leave on Friday.

Next I moved into our bedroom, and had a similar conversation with my husband about what would be appropriate to wear. I know he has pants to choose from. The issue for him may be shirts. He put on a nice short-sleeve shirt. “Do you think I could wear this one?”

Me: “Possibly, if you wear nice navy slacks with it.”

Him: “What would I wear for a tie?”

Me: “You wouldn’t. Not with that kind of shirt. But I think that’s ok.”

Him: “I don’t know what else I have that would be good….”

Me: “Well, you have time, you could run out to get something.”

Him: “But how do I know what size to get, like neck size and stuff?”

Me, sighing: “If you aren’t buying a long sleeve dress shirt and aren’t wearing a tie, you won’t need to know your neck size.” Then, repeating myself word for word from 15 minutes prior in my son’s room: “Well, sort through what you have tomorrow so if we have to go get something new, we’ll still have time.”  Still knowing, of course, that this process has only just begun, and a solution will only happen shortly before we have to pack to leave on Friday. Seeing a pattern here?

This morning, it was my turn. I pulled two dresses out of the back of my closet, in an effort to find something else to wear instead of the dress I’ve already worn to two other events this summer. Because, well, variety is the spice of life. Good news, they fit. Sort of. I’ve had both dresses for quite a while, and both were purchased before my menopausal weight gain and the addition of Poochy, my pet name for my over-50 stomach. Looking face-on in the mirror, with a good bra to keep the girls in place, I looked pretty good. Back view, although wishing my butt was about 3” higher like it used to be, not too bad either. Side view however, ugh. The amazing thing about over-50 weight gain, is that no manner of “sucking it in” will help. It just hangs out there for all to see. Hence why so many of us wear loose flowy things. These dresses are not loose and flowy. Undecided, I hung both dresses back up and went rummaging around in the rarely-worn part of my underwear drawer to determine if I still own spanx.

In the end, I will likely choose the dress I’m more comfortable in, whichever one feels more summer wedding-ish, and to whichever one I can best match existing shoes and jacket. Because that’s the other thing that changes over time. When selecting a great outfit for an event, two key requirements bubble up to the top: ease and comfort. Gone are the days of taking hours to prepare, and spending hours not being able to breathe and move.

After the wedding, we will come home, get our fancy duds cleaned and hung up, and we will probably not see them again for some time. Long enough, I’m sure, for my son to outgrow the pants again, and for my matronly shape to no longer look right in the same dress. But that’s all right. Because we have shorts, jeans and t-shirts that fit just fine in the meantime.




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Cool Grass Moments

green grassIt’s been an eventful week. My stepson was in a major car accident (thankfully walking away with only minor injuries), my older brother’s health is declining (again), and my husband just lost his job.  On a scale of 1 – 10 for good days, these rank somewhere in the negative numbers. And somewhere wedged in between all of this activity, I was away at a work conference for two days. As I drove home through busy traffic today, I had an overwhelming desire to do one simple thing when I got home…

As soon as I got to my house, I dropped off my bags in the hallway and went out to my backyard and laid down on the cool green grass to look up at the puffy clouds. I realize there are plenty of other people who would choose to relax with a different kind of grass, but this is what I craved at that moment. My dog followed me out, giddy with fur-kid excitement that a) I was home and b) that I was reclining on his level. My son then also followed to chat and catch up and feel some reassurance that everything will work out ok in our lives. Bless him, he didn’t even raise an eyebrow or ask why I was laying in the grass. After all, mom does some pretty weird things.

It felt great, my cool grass moment — it was just what I needed… and as I lay there, I came to a few conclusions:

  • For once being older is a good thing. The younger me of years past would be freaking out at any of the issues of the past few days. Granted, my brain has been going at about 100 mph and my stomach is in knots, but otherwise, I’m not in full-on anxiety mode – for two reasons. First, flying off the handle is no help whatsoever, and second, because I just don’t have the energy. I will admit I have moments of internal panic, but for the most part the more mature me is choosing to believe that everything will work out fine somehow. The older I get, the more I cling to Faith, Hope, Love, and Strength, and focus on taking one day at a time. Besides, God has been remarkably good to me for 52 years, and I don’t think I’ve done anything lately to make piss Him off so He’d change His mind and no longer give me guidance on the right paths to take.
  • Be Kind, and Unwind. I am by no means the only one who’s had a kind of crappy week. I can immediately think of several other Real Women who have a lot of challenges in their lives at this very moment: elderly & sick parents, work pressures, challenges with children, family in the military during unsettled times, loss of beloved pets, their own health worries… you name it, we all are carrying around a load of problems. And some are carrying around far more serious issues than what I’ve just listed. You never can tell what someone may be dealing with, because we are all pretty darn good at keeping things inside. So let’s be nice to each other. In a world that currently seems to be running low on kindness, let’s try to change that, one person at a time. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but can have a remarkable effect of unwinding some of the tightness so many of us are carrying on our shoulders or around our hearts.
  • Life is All About Balance.   Yes, shit happens. Sometimes it seems like it happens a lot. But the universe has a funny habit of giving us some good to balance out the not good.   My stepson miraculously will be fine, even though his new-to-him car was totaled. My brother is in a safe, pleasant facility full of people to take care of him. My husband is healthy, smart and talented, and we will find a way to make ends meet somehow until we figure out this next chapter in life. I was stopped in several traffic jams on my way home today, but it was a sunny dry day, I opened my windows, turned up my music playlist, and got home safely. I’ve had a challenging week, but ironically my girlfriends had already planned to visit this weekend and apparently are now planning to force me into relaxation and de-stress mode.

Therein lies our solution, I believe, to being able to handle the challenging times in life. We have to cling to faith and hope, be kind, and look for balance. And we need to recognize when we need that moment — a time out, really — to breathe and find clarity, and gather our strength for what is to come. On a grander scale, there’s a lot of scariness and hatred in the news right now; but even on that level, we can still reach for balance in our own lives… like when the need arises, find a comforting spot of cool green grass to lay on.



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