>I’m hydrating. With water. Isn’t that what we call having a glass of water now? Oh, I’m in such a thoughtful mood about the things we tell ourselves as I prepare to say farewell to my uterus and other such parts on Thursday. I suppose all this “moving into another stage” thinking has caused me to look at the toll that forty plus years has done. Pleased with some things, hating others (don’t get me started on howa tummy tuck SHOULD be a mandatory part of a hysterectomy.)
I tell myself I’ve earned my wrinkles. It’s so new millennium…accepting the aging process, earning our stripes, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da. And yet, we see in magazines the actresses in their forties who show not a crease or gray hair. They’re hot mammas, having babies last week and hitting the gym by noon the day. Or, they’re “cougars” and loving it up with some luscious twenty-two year old with delicious abs and visible hip bones.
What to believe? I tell myself I really have earned my wrinkles. Mostly, they’re from years of neglect as a child raised on the beach without sunscreen. A number have been earned recently from caring for a father with Alzheimer’s. Then there are the having one teen and one soon to be teen wrinkles…I believe it’s more of a chasm in between the brows as opposed to a wrinkle. Having said that, when I washed my face just moments ago, I noticed the texture resembled the heels of my feet and I felt deflated and desperate for a facial (secretly yearning for thousands of dollars of laser surgery on my skin.) I tell myself I don’t have the time and the money. It’s a story. I could make time. I could find the money. I tell myself I’ll get to it after the holidays. There’s always later.
I guess I’m like most “regular” women who vacillate between accepting this interesting process called “maturity” and wanting to shred the newest issue of Glamour at the grocery store, proclaiming how Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston are more beautiful now than ever. Sexier. Younger.
In the end, I feel I’m moving into a really sacred place as I bid my organs good-bye. They served me well, and the party is over. No more babies. And as I reflect on a dinner date that my husband and I had with a couple our age last Friday, I tear up at the thought of how vulnerable we all were. In our twenties, we would have never shared private fears, past tragedies, and secret worries after only a handful of times together. The image has been shed for many of us. We’re learning the beauty of inner strength and support. We’re telling ourselves the truth and not dwelling in the narcissism and fear. It really is a magical time.
While I would gladly skip through Safeway during the “recovery phase” of laser surgery, proclaiming, “Wait
’till you see how great I’ll look in six months!”, I must admit that I’ve never had so many deep, loving relationships now that I’m older, somewhat wiser, and a lot more transparent. In saying “ta-ta” to a part of my youth, I embrace the change, knowing that my tribe of friends will be there with me through the hot flashes, “character lines”, and imperfect skin. We probably won’t be cougars and we may not be the new twenty, but we must keep remind ourselves that we’ve got a niche on happiness: love and acceptance…okay, AND an occasional facial and dreams of a magic wrinkle cream!
>I’ve finally cooled down after chugging a blue Gatorade. Mowing the lawn in a heat wave ranks right up there with a root canal or a spinal tap. However, during the repetitive motions of going back and forth across our overgrown lawn, I recalled a treasured moment with my son. Rather than share any details, I want to back up.
For those of us who have kids, there’s a certain moment in their development that we think, “Surely, this is the BEST time. It will never be any better.” I think the grammar school years were pretty amazing. They communicate, they’re silly, self-consciousness hasn’t reared its ugly head. In my house, this translated into wild dress-up costumes and “dates” with Mom that didn’t have to revolve around sports or shopping. Secretly, I feared what many of us fear: the door will slam in my face the minute they hit adolescence. It has closed many times, don’t get me wrong. But, it always opens back up.
It’s often in the quiet moments of the evening that the proverbial door will swing wide open and I’m in that sacred space of my kids’ thoughts, feelings, and questions. My fears are put to rest, at least momentarily, that the best isn’t over…it’s just a different kind of best.
There aren’t crazy costumes or parades down the hall, rather they are priceless moments of hearing their worries, victories, and thought provoking questions such as, “Why do people act the way they do?”; or “When will I feel less lonely?”
These quiet moments are peak experiences in life. I want to grab them and tuck them in my heart, replaying them over and over like a favorite song on my iPod. These moments, in which time seems to cease, rarely happen when I “plan them” or introduce a tricky subject (gossip, young ladies who show too much skin, power girls, finding faith and living by it). Rather, they enter the room like a whisper, teasing me to drop what I’m doing, never yelling out, “Hey, pay attention. This is important!”
I suppose when the kids are grown, moved out, and I have the opportunity to look back and reflect, I’ll remember every best stage of their life. For now, I’m sticking to my belief that the best is now if I pay attention, listen, and wait for the next whisper.read more
>There’s something to be said for getting out of our comfort zone. If you read my last entry, you know that I got to do that via flying alone and attending a writing awards banquet (which went very well, thank you.) What was amazing about the entire weekend was the number of teachable moments for me. By nature, I’m high strung, Type A, and born to worry. If I’d had a crystal ball last week that allowed me to look into the future and see how smoothly my weekend was going to go, all of the worry, sleepless nights, and fright would have melted away. Then again, I wouldn’t have needed all the faith and prayer that filled many hours.
Over and over, I was humbled at how God’s hand was over me. From the transportation back and forth from the event, courtesy of the coordinator of the writer’s conference, to the upgraded suite, to the free bus fare from the kind driver, I was surrounded with a sense of calm and God’s presence.
On the way home, I sat next to a man who was from Folsom, a town just minutes from my home. He was not only friendly, interesting, and Harvard educated, but I believe, placed next to me for a purpose. He shared that he recently did something that he swore he’d never do: parachute out of a plane. His twenty-something year old son invited him to simply watch him parachute and then he was invited to go along. I asked him what it felt like the moments before he jumped from the plane. He said, ”Well, I thought, I might die.” And then he jumped! He explained the experience as exhilarating, as he cast his faith into the hands of his guide who led him safely to earth.
I grew teary eyed listening to his story. While I didn’t jump from thousands of feet in the air, I took a leap in faith that I would have a safe, successful, dare I say FUN time on my own. It was only when I put trust in my parachute-guide, that I was able to allow my faith to grow and enjoy the ride.
As I descended to the Sacramento airport, I looked out the window to see the shadow of the plane. It was a tiny, compact shadow that resembled a toy. As we got closer to the ground, it grew bigger and bigger, catching up with its true size as we touched ground. On Friday the 10th, my confidence was like that little airplane shadow. Yet, with each successful and joyful event that passed, my confidence grew, until I stepped off that plane on Saturday the 11th somehow changed…stronger, more trusting, and thankful to God for the lesson.read more
>I’d about kill for a Diet Coke, but I’m stuck with water. Better for me, I know. But, the hours are closing in until I take off–twenty to be exact. My week? Here’s a little peek…
Okay, I don’t want to check-in my luggage, so I’ll take a carry on. Oh, wait…I want to bring my manuscript. I’ll need to put that in my brief case. I’ll pack that, too. Don’t want to lug that around the airport. Shoes: comfortable or beautiful? It’s a writing conference; I’m going with comfortable. They need polishing. Done. Oh God, what about my pillow. My pillow’s been around the globe. Last stop was Sicily. I’ll call the hotel and see if they have down pillows. I can’t risk a neck ache. Yes! They have down pillows; one less thing to pack. Alright, now for the outfit for the writer’s banquet. I want the business casual look, so of course, black pants and a black sweater. It’s not a funeral, though. I need a splash of color. Nothing at J.Jill, Chico’s, or any other store. T.J. Max it is. Why don’t I learn? Perfect–a fuchsia blouse, brings my face to life. Speaking of which, I’m a little pale. Nothing wrong with a round of bronzer. That’s done. Now for the search for a dozen cosmetics under three ounces. Another trip to the store. Thank you, CVS. Taxis. Haven’t taken a taxi by myself since…never. I’ll just Google taxi services in Albuquerque. Wow, $2.40 a mile. I need to pull out some cash. Over a hundred, under a hundred? What if I lose my purse or get mugged. Speaking of purse, I need that snappy black one my cousin Lisa handed down. Phone–charged. Ipod–charged. Whew…I think I’m ready.
AND THIS IS FOR A TRIP THAT WILL TAKE UP LESS THAN 24 HOURS OF MY LIFE!
Thanks to Nora Ephron and her witty writing in When Harry Met Sally, I learned the name of my diagnosis: High Maintenance. Now, unlike Sally, I’m not the worst kind: thinking I’m low maintenance when I’m really high maintenance. No, I know what I am. Plus, I have this thing called a family who is kind enough to remind me of this!
As I contemplated this on my walk with Alfi (my precious Havanese), it dawned on me that I am growing into the very person that used to send me ranting and raving. I’m the fifty-five year old woman (that’s figurative, not literal!) who cripples at spontaneous moments and needs hours of planning to leave her environment for less than a day. What is happening to me? (This is a rhetorical question…please, be kind.) I know some of you can relate.
So, here’s how I see it: this is a dry run for when I will start my future book tour. I will have it down (how’s that for a positive spin.) That, or I will start self-medicating the week before, next time. Kidding…maybe.read more
>Ah, the saggy middle. Now, I’m not talking about my abs that need a minimum of 100 crunches an hour or even a tummy tuck (although, that would be fabulous). No, I’m talking about the author’s plight of hitting the middle of her story and wondering how to get through to the end. It’s the time in a lot of writers’ lives where little writing gets done and a sort of paralysis of the fingers and brain takes over. My cure, however, comes from my prior career as a therapist: go with the resistance. Taught by a wonderful mentor, going with the resistance is a practice of not arguing and fighting with what is so clearly the problem. So, even when my drug abusing client shouted that CPS was the cause of her child being removed, not her own behavior, I learned to listen, explore, and trust that the resistance would pass, and then I could point out the flaw in her logic.
How does this translate into my writing life? Well, 99% of the battle is trusting that where I am today is not where I’ll mentally be tomorrow (i.e. preoccupied with making a pot of chili, worrying about my upcoming flight, wondering how my main character will wake up to her poor choices.)
One of the delights of writing at home (for no pay) is that I make the rules and here is my cardinal rule when I’m in the saggy middle: daydream in silence. I did this for over an hour last night (albeit, in bed…okay, maybe it was ruminating.) Today, it was more intentional and you know what…it worked! I think I have the transitions I need. In fact, my characters are probably headed for Hawaii! Can I come along? I could really use a Blue Hawaiian as I sip and share rather than this dirty tasting green tea.
It’s tough tightening that saggy middle. It’s an area I’ve learned to accept and know that in time, a saggy middle eventually leads toward a smashing end!read more
>Now that I’ve got your attention, I have an assignment for you, fellow friends, writers, family members. I’m currently at work on deepening my characters for That Sounds Vaguely Familiar. To make my characters real, stand out, feel believable, I often borrow certain characteristics from people I’ve met. (Yes, if you read enough of my material, you might see something a little familiar…nothing too personal, though…I hope!)
Your assignment: Send me clips of habits you find annoying; your best day; your worst day; five words to describe yourself, your spouse, or a sibling; a funny story; your most embarrassing moment; a goal you’ve achieved; a secret, tucked away goal you hope to achieve (okay, it won’t be secret if it’s on the Internet, but…).
Get it? You never know, you could be contributing to the next best seller! As always, I cite a word of thanks in the beginning of my book to anyone who has helped, that is, unless you wish to remain ‘the anonymous nose picker’.
>There’s something magical about sharing time with pre-adolescent girls who are dabbling in make-up, waking up to crushes, and in love with beautiful clothes. As I sit here in the quiet of the morning, sipping my Columbia di Kirkland, a smile spreads across my lips as I recall the night with my daughter and her best friend.
It could have been an ordinary sleep-over: late night snack, giggles, a warm evening swim, and time to myself. But then, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun…” While the girls swam, I dashed into my closet, grabbed a handful of stunning dresses I’ve worn to company Christmas dinners and black tie events, and darted up to our bonus room. I spread the dresses across the bed. I then combed through the “dresses that were”–my homecoming princess dress, a gorgeous black and white bridesmaid dress (no, seriously, I’m not even being sarcastic…it IS gorgeous…thank you, Marianna), and my all time favorite, the-long-slinky-red-dress of 1996!
I asked the girls to shower, then brought them upstairs. Their eyes widened and gasps filled the room as they surveyed the gowns, heaps of costume jewelry, and a sink full of make-up. Time to play dress-up!
There were giggles of delight, shudders of horror (okay, not every dress was to there liking), and verbalized dreams of future prom dates. But something was missing…
I flung open the door to the balmy August night, ran down the stairs, grabbed my iPod to find THE perfect song, and the real fun began. Strutting down the back deck to “I’m Too Sexy”, I taught my daughter and her friend the catwalk. Tears of hysteria rolled down my face at their attempts in heels and angry model faces. I clicked away as though the right shot would show up on the cover of Vogue next month. The best pics were of them bursting into laughter, falling into their little girl selves.
I think we 30, 40, 50 something-olds need to bust out and play more often. That little girl is in there with all her dreams, silliness, and lack of inhibitions. She gets ignored an awful lot. We women have a lot pulling at us, robbing us of our fun and spontaneity: jobs, dishes, lists of “to-do’s”. I know I can get very “nutted-up” amidst all the demands and get just a tad cranky by 8:00 pm. What I’m learning is that in between all of the ”have-to’s” are the “get to’s” and getting to laugh out loud with my daughter might just be the most important thing I did all week!read more
>Last night, had I been blogging, I would have written through blurry eyes courtesy of the Cosmopolitan that I sipped during my, gulp, 26th high school reunion. Even as “I Want Candy” banged out through the room as I hugged classmates and listened to tales of children, divorce, and even death, my writer’s brain began to compose today’s post.
The timing of this multi-class reunion is serendipitous, as my first born, my baby boy, begins high school tomorrow! I know, you are shocked, too. How can it be? He was just three and running around in pink rubber boots.
Much to his dismay, we are cut from the same mold. We’re deeply sentimental, passionate, often easily hurt, but loyal to our friends. Seeing my former classmates stirred up an array of memories–some wonderful (days of cheerleading), some painful (girls can hurt each other so much), some arousing old insecurities (ditto), and some causing me to blush (no comment). I find myself in awe that my son is at this place in his life. And while he will certainly have moments of self-doubt, elation, pain, joy, disappointment, and success, I know that he’s beginning his journey with a foundation of four steady legs (his father and mine) rather than the teetering stool of my family of origin.
Entering my forties is like a second adolescence. As my children grow into the years in which I fought for my independence and place in life, I, too, am challenged to shake things up and throw off what isn’t “me”…case in point, quitting my job as a therapist and daring to pursue my dream of being a writer. Harder, perhaps, is coming to peace with what is happening to the outer shell of me. I laughed that had I actually committed to attending the reunion prior to two weeks ago, I would have: (A) lost five lbs., (B) got a little Botox, and (C) ordered my business cards earlier. In truth, it would have been nice to have the cards handy to give out my e-mail address, but my stubborn five lbs. and lines came at a price; the price called “living!” I won’t give up sweets and I have an expressive face. Maybe this is the lesson for me in this second adolescence: to accept what is and enjoy.
When I left the reunion, three thoughts struck me (even with the Cosmo buzz lingering). The first was how great it was to see old friends. The second was how lucky I am to be married to the same man for 22 years and actually still find him the most attractive man in the room and adore him. The final was how blessed I am to be surrounded by amazing friends who love me and let me love them.
I wish my son the best. He’s going to get hurt, he’s going to fall down. But he’s also going on a helluva ride and learn a lot about himself and what he’s made of. My hope is that at 43, he can smile at the past, but even more so, smile at the present!read more
>Okay, you asked, so I’ll tell. With a glass of water (how boring) by my side (it’s late…don’t want to get up thirty times tonight…sorry…TMI), I’ll share about my writing contest.
About four months ago, after much encouragement by my writing partner Christina Mercer, I entered a few writing contests. One involved my first novel, Out of Breath. At the beginning of July, I heard that I placed in the top twenty! Wait, it gets better: August first, I got the email telling me that I am in the top three! Sooo, on September 10th, I’ll fly, alone…let me repeat that for all of you who know me…ALONE, to New Mexico to the Southwest Writer’s Award Banquet and find out if my novel placed in third, second, or first. Best of all, agents and publishers will be standing by.
Now, pray for my success and pray for my nerves. Some Moms would be jumping for joy over staying away overnight. I, on the other hand, am not so brave (where’s my blankie? I could really use a transitional object.) Anyone want to join me? All expenses unpaid. Come on…I’m great company
That’s the scoop.
Mmmm, nothing beat a tall sip of Brita purified water….read more
>I’m all set. I’m going to start a blog. Hmm…I’m kind of thirsty. Mid-90′s, too hot for PG Tips tea. Ohh…I think there’s a Diet Coke with my name on it. Okay, I’m back. And that’s about how it goes for me, the writer, to get focused on my writing. I need just the right atmosphere: quiet…I mean really quiet (i.e.: the children are in school), soft lighting, and something wonderful to sip.
Being a writer is a bit like being a baseball player. We’re full of rituals and have to perform our series of OCD behaviors before we sit down and pound out a page, chapter, or at least a few words. No, we don’t touch our hat brim fifty times or spit chew onto the ground (well, maybe you do…who am I to judge?), but we do like things to be just so.
This led me to my blog title: sip-n-share with Susan. Let me know what you’re drinking as you comment on life, your writing, the world. Maybe a cup of calming chamomile is in order after schleping the kids to school and soccer. Or a steaming cup of espresso after a long steamy night…now, now, don’t go there…it was hot, you pulled weeds until your back couldn’t move, and ended the night with a long, hot, steamy bath. Maybe you’re a night writer, sipping a smooth glass of Cabernet while you pound out your quips and gems. (I’ve found I need a heavy serving of “DELETE” after I’ve “Written-On-Wine.”)
Whatever your choice of beverage, sit down with me, sip, and share what’s on your mind. What are you writing? What are you reading? What’s touching you (or making you crazy) in the world. I look forward to sipping and sharing with YOU!read more