Being Martha Louise Hunter

Being Martha Louise Hunter also appears on Wordpress as www.beingmarthalouisehunter.com

 

eat, pray, love & kahil gibran

 

"you don't need a man, liz," he says. "you need a champion."

a line spoken by that hot actor with the bedroom eyes, dimples & accent. think his name is javier bardem.

i've resisted watching eat, pray, love since it came out, & resisted reading the book, too, by elizabeth gilbert. 

it was like 8 years ago, right? something like that. i think it's because i had a pretty good idea what it was about.

i don't watch movies as much as i used to, & i need to work on that. you can learn a lot from movies, not to mention books.

this liz woman seems to be julia roberts.

&, I'm not even watching the movie now, anyway, even though it's on the tv -- says at the bottom of the screen, "26 minutes left."  below that, it says, "a woman comes to the realization that she is not happy. so after a divorce, she sets out on a journey across the world, during which she falls in love."

same old familiar story, right? unhappy, divorce, expensive vacation, love.

hey, wait a minute... where's the eat & pray? oh, yeah -- coming in with only 26, now 24 minutes left, they must've done that already.

okay, here comes love. it would seem that now they're falling in it. julia has that weepy, sideways look in her eyes. javier is watching her with an "i've got love on my mind" expression.

gracious. he just popped something like "girl from ipanema" on the hi-fi. now it's the dance, the seduction... followed by,

the closed door. 

change of scene. more dialogue: "love is scary. dangerous." it's the woman who's treating julia for a bladder infection.

"we've only spent 2 minutes apart for the past 2 weeks," julia says.

"too much happiness. too much pleasure. you make yourself sick," the wise woman says.... "be careful, or you lose yourself."

i know what she's talking about. i know. you might, too, if you've ever been in love.

you spend so much time together - it's just so fun -- intoxicating -- it's all you want to do. you don't want to be apart.

but javier lives in bali. julia lives in new york. when he proposes they try finding a life in the middle, she freaks out.

"you're afraid to love again," he says. "do you love me, or do you love me not? look me in the eyes & tell me. i know you feel the same way i do. why can't you say it back? you're terrified?"

julia says in tearful exasperation, "i don't know why you can't understand this. i found something & i can't give it up."

"the balance you think you found is meditation & prayer," he says back. "listen. balance, my darling, is not letting anybody love you less than you love yourself."

"don't say darling to me again, or i'm going to lose it," she says angrily. "i don't need to love you to prove that I love myself."

"don't run away from me," he pleads. "you're running away from all of the great possibilities of your own life."

but, she does.

she puts his photo in her travel bag & zips it up.

on the way out of town, she visits her medicine man, ketut.  "you healed me ketut. i wouldn't have come back to myself."

he looks at her knowingly. "you love your new boyfriend."

"i ended it," she says.

"don't understand why you do that."

she shakes her head. "i couldn't keep my balance."

"listen to ketut," he says. "sometimes, to lose your balance for love is part of living a balanced life."

the movie's almost over. but, we've seen enough of them to know she never makes it to the airport.

in the meantime, julia gives a voice-over about "the physics of the quest."

        "If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you.

Or so I've come to believe.”

that's one kick-ass speech, don't you think? julia didn't come up with it spontaneously -- elizabeth gilbert put those words in her  mouth & she's a damn good writer. plus, she's definitely onto something.

julia meets javier on the boat dock. of course she came back.  

they kiss, they smile. they speed in a fast boat across the ocean, breeze in their hair, sparkle on their eyes, into the sunset.

when I got married, the priest took from the teachings of kahil gibran. tonight, i turn to these words in my mind-- i believe they speak to this "balance" from eat, pray, love. see what you think --

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow
— From "On Marriage" by Kahil Gibran

i'm glad i got to catch the last 26 minutes of the terrific movie tonight. what a gift.

i also love javier's line, the 1st line i caught from the movie, because it's so meaningful to me. it says a lot.

"you don't need a man, liz," he says. "you need a champion."

that's love. & believe me, i'm grateful.

truly grateful. & blessed.

TTFN

 

 

feeding the dragon

 
0jabba

the very moment three particular words came out of my mouth, i heard a noise.

two noises, really.

thunder.  & a crack of lightning, like the cackle of a scary, old witch.

a little dramatic, certainly. & they got my attention.

because the words i'd just spoken were serious words. they were a total "integrity statement."

but, i didn't say them on purpose. not really.

you see, the person i said them to -- he had something that I needed. & in order to get it, i had to... well, have you ever heard the expression, "feed the dragon?"

it's not a pleasant thing. it means you have to put up with something torturous from someone -- pander shamelessly, if necessary, all in the name of getting what you "need."

imagine the old star wars movie return of the  jedi. you saw it, right? the one with the character jabba the hutt -- the nasty, fat & slimy alien-monster who looks like a huge, greasy glob of dirt jello. if you saw the movie, you certainly remember jabba the hutt.

in the movie, he captures carrie fisher's character, princess leia & turns her into his slave girl, & makes her wear iron chains & a metal bikini? princess leia endures jabba the hutt's rank foulness, not to mention his putrid breath, when she could've actually wrapped her slave chains around his neck @ just the right moment & strangled him to death. but she didn't because she was waiting for the chance to save her lover-man, han solo.

uhm, hello... played by harrison ford? at least you remember his character from star wars, right?

okay - so, how did i feed the dragon in my situation? that's what you really want to know.

i had suffer through listening to MY jabba the hutt's story over lunch one day, as i smiled pleasantly, nails digging into my palms, because his story was all a load of horse manure.

when the waitress finally brought our food, it was down to business at last. but, not before he blithely said:

"i hope i can count on you to keep our conversation confidential."  translation: don't tell the person i'm talking about, even though she's one of your closest friends.

did i mention it was a STEAMING load of horse manure? &, if he was telling his story to me now, he had already told it to any & everyone who would listen.

with the squirmy sensation that i was heading straight to hell, i looked him in the eye & said these words:

"i don't rat."

hearing the roaring thunder & witchy thunderbolt, i reminded myself that telling him that rather than telling him off would allow me to still get what i needed, because i couldn't risk pissing him off.

plus, he was also paying for my lunch.

life takes finesse sometimes. a little smooth choreography to help things go our way.

the more i thought about it, i felt really used. like i was his garbage can or something. & besides, when princess leia had to feed the dragon, at least she got to look smokin' hot in that metal bikini while she did it.

i mean, truly -- did carrie fisher ever look better in her life?

i waited a few weeks before i told my friend what he'd said. i couldn't help myself, because she deserved to know. maybe i could've thought, what she doesn't know won't hurt her? no, because i didn't see it that way. it took far more integrity to tell the truth to my friend than to keep jabba the hutt's confidence.

but, let's be honest. a little part of me wanted to pay ol' jabba back for making me feed the dragon.

through her seething anger, my friend told me basically the same thing i told jabba -- "i don't rat." that she wouldn't tell him what she now knew that he'd said about her.

do you hear the thunder rumbling in the distance? & how the air smells like rain?

but she did tell him. & loose lips sink ships.

what just happened here, i wondered, as i was pulling myself out from under the bus.

it's called karma, baby.

my friend couldn't help herself. just like me.

but, that's not true.

i could help myself. every step along the way, i knew better. i knew it was possible that he would learn that i'd ratted him out to my friend.

maybe you remember what happens to jabba the hutt in the movie. oh, princess leia ends up choking him to death with those chains, all right. to big cheers from the audience. for my money -- it was the best scene from every stars wars movie combined.

i fed my jabba the hutt to get what i "needed" when i should've just said, "hey - i'm not listening to this," whether it pissed him off or not -- but that train had left the station.

so rather than lie to jabba about having told my friend what he had said -- it wasn't much fun. root-canal-fun, actually, but i owned it. because i had to be able to look at myself in the mirror again.

karma can be totally annoying. but it's also kind of comforting in a strange sort of way, knowing that it's ready to slap us silly when we need to learn a lesson. know what i mean?

& here's the lesson i learned:

I'm done feeding dragons.

TTFN

 

gratitude

 

with the exception of the years i gave birth to my children, 2014 has been the most wonderful year of my life. come to think of it, i gave birth again, this year.

i gave birth to my novel, painting juliana.

it actually happened - my lifetime dream.

i am grateful.

to God, my spirit guides & angels, ancestors, & everyone who's helped me, whether i've actually met them or not.

& i say thank you.

thank you for helping me.

my heart is filled with joy.

TTFN


 

procrastination & prayer

 
procrastination & prayer

forgive me, oh blog followers. this is my 1st blog post in 3 weeks & i apologize. i really do. it's just that procrastination is my nemesis. i find myself putting off new blog posts because they take so damn much time.

but, i learned something important today that i need to tell you about. it's about control, i guess you could say.

control as it relates to prayer.

there's a heartbreaking tragedy going on in someone's life who's close to me right now. a dear friend - her brother was in a crazy freak accident, bitten by a rattlesnake of all things after finishing a 5-mile run on the exercise trail behind the hospital where he works. venom went straight into his vein & pumped through his body at an astronomical speed.

none of it makes sense. it's all just so bizarre.

the man is a father, a husband, a brother, a son. a surgeon. in fact, it was between surgeries when he took his run. he's been on life support & a respirator for coming on a week now. they found a second set of bite marks - not just on his ankle, but his wrist, too. & now, pneumonia has set in. just where it's all going -- well, who knows really? God does, i suppose.

of course, He does.

i've been overcome with sadness - so sad for my friend his sister, his dad, his wife & kids. his patients, present & future. a tremendous sadness like one i've never felt. so many tears. it's been all i think about.

the prayers i've said - what i've said... please God, save his life. his work here on earth isn't finished. Jesus, raise him up like Lazarus -- i know you can. he's got so much more to do.

struggling, i called another friend this morning. my special phone-friend who helps me talk through difficult things. he's the kind of person who's a real truth meter, who i feel safe telling anything to.

SPOILER ALERT -- i'm one those "woo-woo" people. i guess you could say i have an open-minded approach to things i don't understand, & if that's a turn-off to some people -- sorry. but, writing this blog, i've got to keep it real. know what i mean?

so, i told him everything i've just told you. plus, that with how i'm so consumed with it, it's like i'm involved on such a personal level. my friend's brother & i knew each other in college. not well -- she was my roommate & he would come to visit, but i was always super-crazy about him. he was her younger brother, for heavens sake, so don't get the wrong idea. but there was something there. i'm not sure what, but it was something.

these overwhelming feelings of mine have to do with a past-life experience between us. i know it sounds weird, i can't explain it & i can't prove it, but it came over me with such sudden intensity, i knew it sure as chocolate when the words spilled out of my mouth to my friend on the phone.

i also felt like this past-life thing between my roommate's brother & me, my overwhelming feelings have to do with the fact that i was unable to save him before. unable to get there on time. like i said -- something. something deeper. it was personal.

praying - more like demanding that God save his life, my trying to impose my will on roommate's brother, how do i know what his will is for himself? And, what God's will is for him?

i don't. it's none of my business, really. it's their business. together.

& as soon as my phone-friend helped me understand this, i was able to give up my wanting to control. it wasn't immediate. it took a little while because i really want him to live. & i'm pretty stubborn.

but, a feeling of peace & calm came over me. it's what i've felt ever since.

control. i have none. over anyone but myself.

in case you think i'm giving up on prayer -- not a chance. those things i don't understand, i'm not always going to. faith. trust. it's what i have for now.

His will be done.

 

which are you? a back-row or a front-row person?

 
front row or back row person

me, i'm naturally a back-row person. it's a great place to hide so people won't bug you. sure, there's the occasional sadistic teacher who takes great merriment in calling on the back-rowers anyway, but it's a risk worth taking. i'm not the least bit competitive, either. plus, i'm not especially comfortable with public speaking-- think red face & throbbing neck muscles.

you get the picture.

it's how I spent my life, up until junior year in college when a light bulb came on.  hey...... i remember thinking. i'm as smart as those ass-kissers on the front row & if i sat up there, too & actually engaged, i'd probably get better grades, not to mention, i might actually learn something. so, i grudgingly hauled my little self to the front row where i steadfastly remain.

sometimes.

i migrated back there last weekend. the back row, i mean.

i was traveling. i'd been in san francisco visiting great friends. a really cool getaway that i really needed. i'm telling you, i'm either chained to this computer working or doing book promotion or whatever & it's damn exhausting. oh, boo-hoo, you're probably thinking. we all have jobs, so get over it.... you're right, but i just needed a minute to whine.

okay, i can continue now.

trips are really sweet until the last day when you have to get on a damn airplane. &, no, i'm not some sissy who's scared to fly-- i'm not --it's just a total drag. you know what i mean.

my friends dumped me off at the airport super-early. it was the husband's idea, go figure, so he could zip down to san diego & hang out with his friend, daniel. oh, it wasn't a big deal-- i loaded up on four packages of chocolate kit-kats, jumbo-sized, & waited a couple of hours for my flight to vegas where i'd have a little layover before my final leg home to austin. don't judge-- chocolate while traveling is essential.

then i waited some more because the flight was mega-delayed- you know the drill. i kept looking @ my watch, wondering if there'd be time to catch my connecting flight. at the airline desk, i found out that i'd be boarding soon & they had everything completely under control.

moments after getting my seatbelt fastened & tray table in the upright position, i was hustled off the plane, knowing that my luggage was flying to vegas without me.

i didn't get irritated, annoyed, grumpy-- none of those things. i went into back-row mode. survival mode. hunkered down.

it wasn't just me getting hustled off the plane, but about a dozen other people were in the same predicament. bringing up the rear, i followed them outside & waited half an hour in the scorching sun for a shuttle bus heading to san jose so we could catch a direct flight to austin.

a shuttle bus-- can you believe that? but, i stayed chill.

finally time to load up, this time i was first in line-- that's how you get a seat on the back row. brilliant, i know.

so, i settled in next to a swarthy little guy who smelled like pepperoni.

did i mention that i hadn't uttered a single word since i'd gotten to the airport? partly because my mouth was full of chocolate, but i seriously hadn't spoken at all & i planned to keep it that way. i'd need every ounce of strength i had if things got wild-- you never know, i might have to spring into action & commandeer the bus like sandra bullock in that movie speed. plus, i've seen the poseidon adventure & titanic.

this was when i began checking out everyone sitting in front of me- nonchalantly, you understand. we'd become a group now-- a little family. the 30ish woman with the braided ponytail & ball cap who never got off her iPhone. her snuggly boyfriend whose bald spot she stroked intimately with her free hand. the white-haired older woman with skin like powdered vanilla. i squinted to read the words tattooed down her arm-- "jesus loves you, but he loves me best."

i couldn't help watching one man in particular. i'd noticed him when we were standing on the sidewalk. you could tell just by looking @ him that he was a high school basketball coach with his broad shoulders & striped, collared t-shirt tucked neatly into his dress slacks-- that & the fact that he kept mentioning it in a crisp voice. i thought he was just being helpful before, & i'm sure he was, but now he was asserting himself as the alpha dog-- our self-appointed dad.

i could see mr. pepperoni to my right bristle when the man looked from face to face, assuring everyone that the bus should make it in time for us to catch our flight & to remain calm. then, mr. pepperoni said loudly, "i've been in this identical situation plenty of times before."

when not one person acknowledged him, his eyes darted in my direction, begging me to say something-- to please back him up & help him be daddy, as if we were forming alliances like on that old tv show survivor.

"can't help you, bud," my silence told him. "because if things get wild, ain't nobody gonna be daddy but me."

but, i'm not competitive-- that's what i told you, right?

it doesn't come naturally, i'm not going to lie-- but if the situation calls for it, i'll kick ass.

it's one of those things that comes with putting yourself out there. i'll never make it with this book promotion thing, otherwise.

what writers have to do is completely contrary to their nature. think about it-- writing is a solitary, holed-up, keep-to-yourself endeavor. then your book's published, & you have to actually tell people what it's about? book signings? okay, try this one-- reading passages out loud? like in front of real-live people?

egads.

but, crap-- what else are you supposed to do? hide on the back row?

trust me, it's crossed my mind.

you would've been really proud of me. @ my book launch, i got up in front of tons of people & read a whole chapter. i promise, it was a really short chapter. nobody likes an insufferable bore-- you know the type-- but i did it, & you know what? it wasn't fatal.

here's another one-- are you ready for this? i went on TV. got interviewed on this news show. me? seriously?

it's not how i want to spend every afternoon, & i'm not saying i was awesome, & no one else did either. there were a couple of cringe-worthy moments, plus the news anchor said i should've worn darker lipstick... but, hey-- i did it, & like i said-- it wasn't fatal.

tell you the truth, i learned a lot from the book i wrote. i made the heroine do tons of stuff she didn't want to do, so what type of hypocrite would i be, lounging on the back row 24-7 ?

i'm not perfect, & i still like it there for sure, but, everyday's ass-kicking time, don't you think?

'cause daddy's home.

TTFN

 

love letter

 

here's what an old friend said when i asked if they'd be attending our 25-year class reunion.

"if I wanted to see any of those people, i'd be doing it already, so why spoil it now?"

what a snotty comment to make, i thought to myself. well, okay - it's not like i'm exactly going to be nominated for the dali lama award either, because with regard to a few choice people, i understood completely what this friend was talking about... but, may i also mention that this friend is also a "facebook holdout?"

so, what's THAT about?

part of the reason... well, let's be honest -- i wasn't especially clamoring for a seat on the facebook bandwagon myself.

i remember the 1st time i heard about it.

"so, it's this awesome connectivity website," someone told me with breathless excitement, "where you put pictures & stuff on there about yourself!!!!"

"are you crazy?" i said. "i don't want people knowing all my personal crap, & i SURE don't want them looking @ my picture!"

& i wasn't just talking about sexual deviants & serial killers -- the whole "peeping tom" aspect in general bugged me. what i looked like, what i was up to, & what my personal views were on any given subject, not to mention my DOB was frankly, nobody's stinking business. when people kept nudging me, i'd smile pleasantly & say, "yeah, yeah, i'll get around to it."

like never.

then, someone said one day, "hey, i saw your facebook page."

"whatttttt??? that's impossible. i didn't put anything on there!"

"well, i guess someone did it for you," they said.

& the picture looked nothing like me at all....

mystery man

a disgruntled member of this new facebook club, i'd shake my head at the people who'd post every time they went to the bathroom. are these people that bored, i thought, or what? seemed like every photo was either someone's stupid cat, a unicorn or a rainbow. assorted inspirational drivel & the occasional rant about obama or quote from ann richards. took me about a year to give my 1st

like thumb

i've never exactly been a wallflower, so i finally decided to be a sport & shifted from voyeur to actual comment-er. messaged with cool people i hadn't talked to in forever, but my "presence" wasn't especially heavy-duty.

then, something strange happened.

a sweet old friend from high school who was kind of one of those bathroom-posters, well, her little grandson came early - super early. a very preemie-preemie in a life-or-death situation. everyone was riveted, watching picture after picture of the tiny little guy with an oxygen tube & IV's sticking out of him. every one of her updates had over a hundred likes & comments. she asked for prayers & she got them. from all of us. even when i wasn't online, i would think about them; i really came to adore him, & her, too.

& i realized something. this tiny little guy was a connector. he brought all of these people together toward a common goal. it was phenomenal, really. it truly was. & you know what? he got better. photo-by-photo, day-by-day, but he did, & now my friend's posts are of him playing with a huge, belly-laugh-smile on his face. & he's just so damn cute. had all of these people's prayers worked?

yes.

& as he got better, i felt like i did, too. everybody did.

the power of facebook

& the power of love.

so, that's why I'm writing this LOVE LETTER.

it's a love letter to facebook, definitely, but it's also a love letter to all of my old & dear friends who've welcomed me back into their lives.

i'm just so grateful for all the love & support you've given me.

in case you're reading this, thank you. really & truly, thank you.

see you tomorrow on facebook, i hope.

i wouldn't miss it.

TTFN

 

hey, forest - give me a piece of chocolate

 

       do you ever feel like you're in the right place @ the right time? like kind of strangely in the right place @ the right time? i do, & lately, it's been happening a lot because i've begun doing things differently. mama's got a brand new bag.

it's not a big deal. nothing more than following the things that are put in front of me -- no stopping to question them or falling into familiar analyze-mode. being in the moment is the key, really. with non-resistance. when you start trying, when you start thinking, that's when it becomes hard.

don't think? that's a new one, isn't it? then, how will you figure out what to do? that's the point. there is no figuring out. it's easy. be open to new things, old things - it's not important. just follow what's in front of you.

i'll say it again: in the moment. no thinking, with non-resistance.

the cool thing is that it moves you out of your comfort zone. maybe i should tell you what mine feels like -- it's super soft & cuddly, like a warm, snuggly bed that i really, really, really don't want to get out of. but this new way of doing things, that cozy comfort zone, wiggly stage fright or whatever else you want to call it becomes rearview-mirror.

this leads to that, that leads to this -- just follow the bread crumbs & next thing you know... the right place @ the right time.

you have arrived.

&, now here's a nifty little treat in the box -- you find yourself looking at things in a different way because there's an exciting new orbit you're operating in. & i truly hate dull, don't you?

i understand your reservations -- i get it, because it does take a little practice. here's a little tip to help you know what to follow. it's usually so damn obvious you could trip over it, but have you ever gotten the same message more than once? as if everyone seems to be saying the same thing, until it's practically being screamed in your ear with a megaphone? that's a good indication.

sometimes, it's just plain, old gut-instinct. just be aware.

no thinking. in the moment with non-resistance.

you'll know.

TTFN

 

make your bed

 
make your bed

scenario: unexpected guest rings your doorbell. for some unknown reason, said guest enters your bedroom & your bed's not made. & it’s afternoon.

how does that make you feel?

mortified? humiliated? dreadfully ashamed that the cat’s out of the bag on your dirty little secret?

now, maybe it's none of the above, & you'd think to yourself, well, who gives a crap? & besides, what’s this nosy creep doing in my bedroom anyway?

but, if it's one of the first things, or even all 3, why is that?

now, i'm just throwing this out there -- it shows that you’re a slob. yeah, that’s probably part of it. especially if this person came back the very next day & saw the same thing.

but, the real reason? maybe a subconscious reason… you know deep inside that you don’t take care of TCB.

for you non-aretha fans, that means, take care of taking care of business.

why don’t we make our beds?

for me, sometimes i’ll think to myself, well – what the hey? i’m just getting back in there later… so what’s the point? besides, bed making has an extra-negative association with me. oh, boo-hoo, i know, but when i was growing up, it seemed like a daily test of perfection. rather, my non-perfection.

my mom was, and still is a total freak about the correct way to do it, & it drives me crazy. like totally nails-digging-into-my-palms, ape-shit crazy.

the blanket must be pulled to the correct distance from the top of the mattress – precisely 3” from the headboard, no more, no less. now, this next part with the sheet takes a little advance preparation, because the amount it must be folded down over the blanket must be that same 3”, because that is the exact measurement between the top edge of the sheet & its hemmed cuff.

it is also imperative that the amount of sheet & blanket hanging down the edge the mattress is equal on both sides. i'm talking completely equal, & if you’re incapable of eye-balling it, there’s a yardstick under the bed.

right next to the slide rule.

now, once they're devoid of the mere hint of wrinkles, it's time to tuck the sheet & blanket under the foot of the mattress. neatly.

oh, hell – i forgot to say that before you can put the blanket on top, the corners of the sheet have to be squared first, at strict 90 degree angles. if you forget this crucial step-- well, don’t, because, aye yai yai!

my mom will make you start all over.

i was always like, what's the big damn deal? why make an all-day event out of it? & for a total non-rule follower, like me who’s a little more free-style in my approach to life, & just about everything in it, i was thrilled beyond thrilled when i moved out on my own & could make the bed like i damn-well pleased, or, not at all, thank you very much.

which brings me to the next part of this story.

an old buddy of mine was “invited” to attend AA several years back -- strictly a stipulation of her probation, she said, but who really knows...

anyway, a really pitiful young woman in the group was horribly addicted drugs, & not the kind found on the shelves @ your neighborhood pharmacy. maybe you didn’t know this, but not everyone in AA is sober, & for her, it was a daily battle that she didn’t always win.

in a desperate state one day, the young woman stood up & completely bore her soul. heartbreaking. many years had passed when my buddy told me this story, & she said she'll remember it until the day she dies.

when the young woman sat down, the room was pin-drop silent for several moments.

until an older lady stood from her chair. easily sixty-five years old. honey, she said.

make your bed.

the young woman looked @ her dumbstruck. everyone else in the room, too. like, what a stupid & insensitive thing for the lady to say. but, she explained.

if you can do that, just that one, simple little thing, it starts your day off right & you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

hmmm-m

in case you think i'm going to sit here & tell you it solved all the young woman’s problems, i'm not, because i honestly don’t know -- & besides, if making your bed was the world’s best therapy for addiction, my mother would be running a halfway house -- but i have spent a fair amount of time contemplating the lady’s advice.

think about it -- to make your bed, you have to get out of it first, & for some of us, some days, that may not be all that easy to do.

plus, after going to all that trouble, you’re going to think twice before crawling back in it, right? not only that, but by starting your day doing something you’re not all that fired-up about doing & find out it's not fatal, you know you can do it the next day, too.

i started this blog post this morning. in my head, that is, mulling over the lady's advice as i sipped my coffee while looking down @ the rumpled, twisted blankets on my bed. hell, no, i don’t make my bed every day – i think we’ve already covered that (nice pun). but, as i took extra care smoothing the wrinkles from the comforter & arranging my fancy pillows on top, i knew that not only would i be good & damn ready if some nosy creep happened to wander back into my sanctuary, i had a feeling that it was a good start to a pretty great day.

&, i was right.

TTFN

 

he makes me better

 
he makes me better

i met him in our very first class on our very first day of high school. kind of a genius. he'd be the first one to tell you that. also, kind of goofball. he'd be the first one to tell you that, too. in fact, he pretty much reveled in it.

tall, hilarious & outrageous, it didn't take long till we were like jenny & forest.

what would we have thought back then if we'd seen this historic picture? I know I'd have been surprised. him, I don't think so.

his name is mark, & he was going to be president of the sophomore class.

 

that's what he said. i had my doubts.

especially when he got on stage dressed as uncle sam for his campaign skit.

blue & white striped, high-water pants, red bow-tie with matching suspenders, plus a ridiculous, foot-tall abe-lincolnesque top hat -- pasted all over with white stars. not exactly what you'd call cool.

but, that's what high school is supposed to be all about, right?

not really. not if you're mark.

he had something far better. confidence. it's one of the main things that drew me to him. i mean, opposites attract, right?

but, did he win? that's what you really want to know.

not even close. but, let's not focus on that, or the fact that he lost junior year, too -- there's more important parts of the story.

senior year came along.

"we'll be running-mates, martha," he said. "me, president, you, vice-president. it'll be great -- you'll see."

i wasn't so sure. besides, me running for class officer?

my opponent, the ever-smiling, everybody's buddy & champion gymnast, gerald martin did flip-flips across the stage to thunderous applause. all my skit amounted to was someone throwing a whipped-cream pie in my face.

oh, the head-shaking irony.... yes, i know.

but, mark? it was hello, mr. president.

now, please don't think for a second that i was bitter. are you kidding? nobody was happier than me. i was grateful mark was my friend & thankful, because i knew that because of him -- well, he made me better.

here we are, all these years later, & nothing's changed. he's been mr. president for years now. his own huge company, enough accolades to fill that foot-tall, abe-lincolnesque top hat many times over, not to mention richer than God.

& me? this past week, i achieved a lifetime goal. maybe you noticed that the count-down date for "The Most Exciting News on the Planet Earth," on the sidebar has expired.

that's right -- my 1st published novel, painting juliana is finally out, glory hallelujah!

who do you think threw me a book launch celebration? who was standing there to introduce me, propping me up with pride & adoration? well, it wasn't gerald martin.

he makes me better

 

& in case you're reading this, mark, my cherished, loyal friend, thank you.

even in four-inch heels, i'm still looking up to you.

you make me better.

TTFN

 

what is art?

 
 
0Art

 

essential.

it made me cry tonight. like with tears rolling down my cheeks.

that's the thing about art -- it makes you feel.

because art is an interactive experience.

that probably sounds heavy, i know, but you didn't see the dance performance that I saw tonight.

think how staring at a magnificent painting can make you feel, reading an incredible piece of literature or listening to a symphony & maybe you'll understand.

it was modern dance -- the kind that some people would say, that's not dance, just because it's not conventional. the dancers were male and female, different shapes, sizes, & colors, but none of that mattered. it was the dramatic emotion they were able to convey that was important. with just the dynamic movement of their bodies set to music, the dancers were able to make me understand things i never had before.

the art was that powerful.

i'll never forget the night i went to a concert -- it was a beatles cover-band, so i thought i knew what to expect -- a little "eleanor rigby" & "love me do," but it was so much more. the music lit me up in such a way that i couldn't wait to get home & write.

i set my computer keys on fire that night, & the story ideas & word combinations were so exciting -- well, i didn't come up with them all by myself.

have you ever seen ballet performed to hard rock? i have, & it changes the experience entirely, in a way that's damn cool. it's the unexpected that makes you consider things in a whole new way. & that's good.

so, yes -- art is an interactive experience that inspires the expression of the human soul.

no kidding.

TTFN

 

larger than life

 
 
0larger

a dear friend of mine was having a special birthday -- you know one of those dreadful birthdays with a zero at the end?

anyway, i was lucky enough to be invited to the party.

the hostess asked everyone to bring a story of their favorite memory of the birthday boy, because it's a shame that people usually only do that at funerals. totally rotten timing for the corpse, not to mention a being a tad anti-climatic.

& this story -- you weren't just supposed to jot something down on a napkin -- you were supposed to like think about it & actually print it out. then @ the party, everyone took turns reading the stories while the birthday boy tried guessing whose was whose.

this took a while -- I hang out with a bunch of writer-ly types, some of whom are rather VERBOSE, and you know who you are...

anyway -- my friend is a super cool-cat. one of those guys all the women want & all the men want to BE? you know the type -- they kind of make you vomit a little bit because they're so damn awesome, but not this guy. several people, myself included, mentioned the fact that not only is he tall, dark & handsome with perfect hair, no less - but he was also his high school valedictorian, lead singer & guitarist in a punk rock band -- I mean a groundbreaking performer, used to play at raul's on the drag & even LA (how rockin' is THAT?),

he's also a best-selling novelist & an accomplished historian. oh - & a kick-ass lyricist, bass player & showman. plus, he's funny as hell & that humor comes out in everything he does. & i probably left half-a-dozen things out.

& he's a loving & devoted husband & father. couldn't leave that part out, because that's the most important thing of all.

so, anyway -- one day, he up & decides he wants to become an artist. like a month later, & i'm seriously not kidding, he's showing in a gallery on south congress avenue. not too shabby. next thing, he becomes a blues-man. changes his whole musical schtick, pulls out the standing bass -- you know one of those huge things, like a 10-foot-tall guitar - & starts composing & yowling like muddy waters or something. if muddy waters was like somebody you could actually stand listening to. you know what I mean.

many of the stories said my friend is a master of reinventing himself.

yeah, that's right, everybody nodded & said.

then, another story said something profound. or, at least it was to me.

that my friend wasn't reinventing himself, he was simply calling upon parts of himself that were there inside him all along.

it makes it sound sort of easy, doesn't it?

easy enough for anyone to do it, right?

i guess in the back of my mind i was thinking.... hmmm. i've always wanted to be a potter. not a stoner. i mean like throwing pots. ceramics, okay? i seriously imagine myself doing it. sounds like fun, you know? wouldn't have to get all artistic -- lopsided pots can look kinda cool, in an avant garde sort of way....

you've got something like that in mind for yourself, i'll bet.

come on, yes you do.

i don't mean self-improvement especially. more like self-enhancement. making yourself larger than life.

or, how about larger inside your life?

just a little something to think about.

because i sure am.

TTFN

 

pennies

 
 
pennies

a friend of mine picks them up every time she sees one & she sees them a lot.

she was going through a hard time many years ago. she moved back to her hometown from los angeles. her family needed her.

this was the 80's. you remember the 80's, right?

the decade from hell, according to my friend, & not just because of the unfortunate fashions. jobs were scarce & she couldn't find one. so, she did what most of us seem to do when we're in trouble. she talked to God.

I mean really talked to him while she'd be out taking a walk.

that's when she started seeing pennies. lots of pennies.

she'd bend down & pick them up off the sidewalk & slip them in her pocket.

soon, she noticed it wasn't only on the sidewalk she'd see them. it seemed like they were everywhere.

sitting on a windowsill.

on top of the morning paper outside her door.

pennies.

a flicker in the grass would catch her eye. she could see it from a mile away.

beautiful, copper pennies.

sparkling in the sun. like they were following her.

she got some spotty temp jobs, a demeaning stint peddling yellow-page ads. she had to sell some of her things, but somehow, she always made rent. & she knew she had a lot to be grateful for.

she pulled up to a traffic light. there on the pavement next to her car.

a penny.

she opened the door.

hello there, she said. you're so pretty & shiny, & i know you've been working hard all of your life & you've got to be tired. why don't you let me give you a lift?

as she picked it up and looked down at it in her palm, she remembered something.

she'd sucked her thumb when she was little. it's how she comforted herself, always wrapped up in the same soft, satin-edged blanket.

& like kids do, she gave her blanket a name.

penny.

that's when she knew what they all meant.

the pennies were God's way of comforting her now. letting her know everything wasn't going to just be okay, it already was okay.

now, if you're thinking i'm making this up, or that I swiped it off the back of readers digest, or that my friend's a wackadoodle, which she's not, just work with me & listen to the rest of the story. okay?

do you always pick them up, i asked her.

the 1st penny was over 30 years ago & even now, she finds one almost every single day.

absolutely, she said. of course.

what do you do with them? i imagined them spilling over her flowerbeds at home.

lots of them are in piggy banks, & regular banks, too, she said, because she's traded lots of them in. but, she also has books & books of them under her bed. she'll tape them to the pages and write a little something alongside. like where she found them.

& how she was feeling that day, before she found them & after.

she's been seeing the same penny on her drive to work. right in the middle of a busy street & she sees it again on her way home, too. twinkling on the pavement, it seems to wink at her.

it's been several weeks now, in the middle of all those cars whizzing by & the penny hasn't moved.

freaky, huh?

all right, remember that line from grease? somebody's got to say it, so i guess it's got to be me.

"see a penny, pick it up. all day long you'll have good luck."

i think it sounds like a spectacular idea. don't you?

TTFN      & for anyone who doesn't know what that means, it's ta-ta for now.




 

thanks, mom

 
thanks, mom

today, i've just got to say it. my mom will send me canned emails sometimes -- the ones railing about  obama being a muslim, i delete faster than you can sarah palin. the cheesy, uplifting variety, i usually skim real quick so i won't feel guilty, & say, yeah, whatever ..... & delete those, too.

it's totally not my style to pass along this kind of thing, so don't get used to it -- my next post will be snarky, i promise.....................  so, THANKS, MOM!

to realize the value of a sister or brother, ask someone who doesn't have one.

to realize the value of ten years, ask a newly-divorced couple.

to realize the value of four years, ask a graduate.

to realize the value of one year, ask a student who's failed a final exam.

to realize the value of nine months, ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

to realize the value of one month, ask a mother who's given birth to a premature baby.

to realize the value of one minute, ask a person who's missed the train, bus or plane.

to realize the value of one second, ask a person who's survived an accident.

to realize the value of a friend or family member:

LOSE ONE.

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have.