Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me...

Recently a fellow blogger posted a lovely story that I think well illustrates what we all know is the true meaning Christmas. While my little yarn will likely be less touching, it will hopefully still bring to memory those lovely days of yore--yes, a bygone era of compulsory frugality yet abundant affection, and a sweet young couple who, while they have since added a few kids, several pounds and a handful of wrinkles, are still madly in love and still quite prudent!
We had been married 6 months when our first Christmas together rolled around. We were both in school, money was not tight...there just plain wasn't any. We would finish finals that semester and then head to my parents' home for the holidays. I really wanted our little basement apartment to have a Christmas tree, even if it were only for a few weeks, but Hunky Hubby reminded me that we scarce could afford to splurge when we would not even be there to enjoy it on Christmas morning, so we went without. We went about our routine; classes, work and homework as we neared the holiday and the end of the term. Gifts for each other were barely on the radar. We had some small handmade offerings for our parents that we hoped would be received in the spirit in which they were given. I knew what I wanted to buy for my sweet new husband, but I also knew we could not afford it. HH walked and biked to and from campus with only a frayed, patched and rather pathetic old backpack to lug his huge books back and forth. I nearly cried when I bought the new one. Thirty-eight dollars. More than a week's worth of groceries. I prayed he would not be upset by my extravagance . I did not expect anything from him. But little Christmas miracle.
I arrived home from class one day, opened the door to our little flat and beheld what is still likely the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen.
On his walk home from campus that afternoon, Hubby had seen a cub scout troop closing up there little tree lot. They offered him their last little sapling for free. He carried it home on foot. As he drug it in the front door, the neighbors (yes, you M & S) saw him, lent him a string of lights and he decorated it with Christmas cards and ribbon tied into bows. When I walked in, there he sat, under the tree with little wrapped gifts in hand. The presents turned out to be a coloring book and crayons.
This week we will have celebrated 18 more Christmases together since that first. The tree is more abundantly decorated now and the presents more expensive, but few will ever mean more to me than those of that first Christmas together. Sappy, I know. And hardly a sarcastic remark or sardonic observation to be found in the whole happy story. I must be losing my touch! Well, it is Christmas after all. Maybe next time. But until then...MeRrY ChRIstMas to all and God Bless us, Everyone!
Quote of the Day: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Too Bad The Merchant of Venice Didn't Sell Calvins...

My youngest had a bit of a melt down the other day. Minor really, but made Mom think and smile and giggle and hug the little princess because, being at least thirty two steps ahead of the girl on the path of life, Mom knows it is only a foreshadowing of at least a few more such instances. She had had a substitute teacher that day in Mrs. G's normally efficiently run, well oiled, chaos free second grade class. The sub however was not so fastidious. Princess's table was noisy and disorderly and Miss R is one 7 year old who does not stand for such nonsense and told her friends as much. When she got home she flopped on the couch, stared out the window and with tears starting to run remarked softly, "I wish I could go back and start this day over."
Boy howdy girl...I hear ya! Day? I have whole years I wish I could take a mulligan on. 1984...Do over! 1996? Puhlease! 2007...Don't even ask!
If I could go back and redo most of jr. high I know exactly where I would start. Nikki Whatserface! I am pretty sure her primary goal of the 7th grade was to make my life miserable. You remember 7th grade right? Ya, her. Why did I let her do that to me? Destroy my self esteem, make me feel small and insignificant. I should not have given her the power. One of my big life regrets is not standing up to her the day I had a chance. Math class. She asked loudly, backed up by her little toady, Christine Somethingorother, "Are those the ONLY pants you own? You wear them everyday!" They were in fact my only pair and she made me feel ashamed of it. The next morning I dug through my mom's closet and found a pair of dress slacks that fit my frame but not my age and I wore those with some of mom's shoes because somehow I thought that wearing tennis shoes with a pair of women's dress slacks was the silly part. Of course the next day my only reprieve came in the mocking my shoes instead of my jeans.
Over the last 25 years, I have written and rewritten what could have been my triumphant soliloquy rebuking every adolescent tyrant and tormentor spewing vitriol and insult from behind the shield of perfectly pressed Calvins. "Nikki, what is it that makes you so insecure about yourself that you feel the need to break others down in order to build yourself up? What part of you is so passed feeling that you have no empathy for those around you who may be hurt or afraid. I may not have the right clothes or hair but I am a nice person! We all have something to offer! Everyone in this room! We have friends and families. We live and laugh and love. If you prick us do we not bleed? (By now I am standing on the desk for full effect) If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not seek revenge? I am NOT AN Animal!!!" Ok you get the point...I hope. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Mr. Coleman's math class really missed out, eh?
In all reality once I started thinking about it, I decided to keep those years. This is my life. This is me. Warts and all. The good and the bad days, weeks or even years, have shaped me. Molded me into the fine upstanding lady you see today. Ya, I know, I have a tendency to exaggerate. But I guess the long and the short of it is we learn from our experiences. I will never make fun of anyone's clothes. I will always try to find something I like about people I meet. I am nice. Sarcastic, opinionated, stubborn and sometimes temperamental, but nice. And in the end mean people are just mean.
Quote of the Day: "All I can do is be me-whoever that is."
--Robert Zimmerman

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How To Eat Crow Even If It's Undercooked

After my last rant, I mean post, I got to thinking. Is not this a problem that NatureGirl has been working on for a while? Why yes, yes, I believe it is. Slow learner that one! I dug back through the archives and came up with this little gem. It has been nearly a year. I must have been taking extra vitamins or something, because now it sounds a bit like hyper-optimistic drivel...
Originally posted January 8, 2009 "And Bend, And Reach..."
So, after yoga class today, I asked if anyone had any big plans for the new year. Several responses prompted thought, but one is making its way into blogdom today. Kay said that this year she is going to work on balance and flexibility. Now, I know full well that she was speaking of her "on the mat" practice, but indulge me, yet again, I would like to extend that to our everyday lives. Sometime last year I put up a post about balance in our lives. Balancing Act drew rave reviews. The critics gave it 3 thumbs up, and audiences went wild. I am a legend in my own mind...
That being hyperbolized, I will focus the remainder of this entry on flexibility. I am not one to get overly excited about change. I don't trust it, I rarely accept it, and I certainly do not condone it. That's right, you heard me! I simply want plain old ordinary stability. I want the dishes where they have always been (even if it is inconvenient I would rather live with it than have it be different), and I will wear my favorite pajamas until they are see-through and Hunky Hubby rips them from my hands and hides them in his rag pile in the garage! Is this sounding like an anti-flexibility rant to you? Ya, well there is something to be said for learning from others' mistakes. Earlier today a friend was having trouble with all the complicated features on her new CD player. She said, "I would rather have the old one back, it had lots of problems, but at least I knew how to deal with them!" A chick after my own heart. I want to be the girl who just goes with the flow, rolls with the punches, and like Mary Richards is willing to pack everything I own into a '69 mustang and head to Minneapolis in pursuit of my dreams! Ya, not gonna happen. I like spontaneity, but only as long as it is well planned. Anybody but me wondering when the flexibility tutorial is coming? That is just it! I am not particularly flexible. I thought I could sit and write a moving commentary about the ebb and flow of our existence, punctuated with inspirational anecdotes from my own life, but I just don't have many. I do remember the first time I ever went Bodyboarding. My friend told me that if you cannot catch the wave that is coming up behind you, you have to just drop under water and let the wave carry you back to the beach. If you try to fight the wave, it will win. Eventually I missed one, and I those few moments under the water, rolling end over end along the bottom of the ocean were terrifying. But, at that moment, I was not in control and I had to let go and let nature take its course, or suffer the consequences of trying to fight it. Such is life. We often dwell on the things that could have been. Perhaps things are not what we had planned. But for now, it simply is. Does that mean we do not try to better ourselves or our circumstances? Of course not. But sometimes our our failure to accept what already is, keeps things and us from changing, growing & improving. If we tighten a muscle while we are trying to stretch it, we limit the amount of improvement we can make in our flexibility. It is in releasing the tension that we make the greatest progress. I practice this with my body, I guess I just need to make that mind/body/spirit/life connection. Jump in with both feet. Throw my hat in the air. Dance in the street. And--even though the old ones were just fine, and the shirt covered the hole in the rather unmentionable spot, and they probably only have a tiny bit of grease from the rag pile, and could still be worn for a few more months--I am wearing the new pajamas...
Quote of the day:"Do so is more important than say so."
--Pete Seeger Folk Singer

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NatureGirl In The Box

Here's the box. Here is me happily living inside the box. Yep. Happily. When I was 12 my mother went skydiving for her 30th birthday. I assumed she wanted to do this. Come to find out later, she jumped because she did not want to. I do not understand this. I do not do half of the things I want to do because I don't really (insert "have the courage to") want to. Did that make any sense?
One of the reasons I did not vote for the current president was his constant call for "change". I do not like change. I do not like it Sam I am. Where is the guy shouting for status quo!? That's the guy who gets my vote! I promise to...never move furniture or change wall decor; never make you change gyms or schools or houses or even clothes if you don't want to. I will never expect you to try new things or make new friends. Things will stay exactly like they are now. Yippee! Sign me up for that plan. Ya, ya I know...lame.
As the children put up Christmas decorations this week, I found myself short of breath whenever I had to move something to make way for something else. Brother and I have discussed this in the past (and I really hope that my mother does not read this because she will feel horribly guilty, but it is not her fault, so on I type). We grew up in a home of constant change. We moved every year or two. By the time I left for college I had lived in about 14 different homes. Even when we did stay put, the furniture moved every other month. Needless to say, different people handle this upbringing differently. I hate change. My little brother hates stagnation. We both have issues.
Happy note: I am working on it. I have tried a couple of new things over the last two years. It is a slow process, Ok! Basically I learned that I do not like hummus or tahini. But at least I tried. Now can I give up, right? Ya, ya, I know what all of you free-thinking, fearless, hopey-changey types are saying...No way Chica...find the adventure...carpe freakin' diem! Whatever.
Truth be told, I have given in recently and let the daring side of NatureGirl step out and open her box up to some new experiences. I tell ya, Pandora could not have gotten the top back on quicker! Yikes!!! When I think about it I just want to hide my head under the covers with a flashlight and a good book. Even a mediocre book would do really.
Ok, now before this gets too depressing I will tell you. I am not giving up. Ok, well, not entirely anyway. Deep down, in that part of my soul that is not completely terrified of people and things, you know, that tiny little spark of hope at the bottom of the box, I want to try. I am not making any promises of course, steps.
1. Make a new friend
2. Change the decor of the hall bath and the family room (both rooms I hate and am sick of but would rather live with that than have change)
3. Take at least one step toward a thing that I have always wanted to do except I am too chicken (may not actually go through with this one)
4. Try something that truly terrifies me (or this one either)
5. Open to suggestions
Where do I go from here? For those of you who have successfully exited the box, or were born on the outside...please, share. I am open to suggestions and may try a few on air...ok well, you know, here on the blog. I realize there is no "air" to speak of here, or in the box for that matter. Hey, help get me out of here...I can't breath...
Quote of the Day: "There is nothing so stable as change."
--Bob Dylan stinkin' genius