Archive | Reflections RSS feed for this section

Mi Bolsa

30 Aug

 “As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.”

-Victor Hugo

The other day, I was chilling out on the front stoop of my house with my toddler and thought to myself, “I could be doing something productive while he’s out here running around.” So I got my overflowing purse out of the van and dumped the contents out onto the sidewalk just to see what had accumulated in there. This is what I found:

  • A small, spiral notebook I use for writing down anything and everything
  • 5 pens
  • A book of selected poems by Christina Rossetti
  • My son’s scorecard from his round at the Sandia golf club in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the beginning of August
  • My wallet
  • A bag of trail mix leftover from our family road trip several weeks earlier
  • Receipts for Safeway (5!), Target, the dentist, the college bookstore, Children’s Place, and Ben and Jerry’s
  • Coupons (which I get with my Safeway receipts and never use)
  • Writer’s notebook (barely written in)
  • An old grocery list
  • A ticket stub to the Debbie Reynolds concert I attended at the Arvada Center at the end of July
  • Appointment reminder cards to the dentist and oral surgeon
  • 2 containers of breath mints
  • My cell phone
  • A $5 bill (a very rare find)
  • My teenage daughter’s Jonas Brothers wristwatch
  • A kid’s hairbrush
  • A small tube of lotion (a free sample picked up in the pediatrician’s office)
  • 5 matchbox cars
  • A partially-made friendship bracelet (dumped in my purse by youngest daughter)
  • A feminine hygeine product
  • A Brio-train car
  • A small hand mirror
  • Girls’ small hair clips
  • A blue Crayola marker

I’ve heard it said that you can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse. So what do these items reveal about me?

#1 I spend far too much time and money at the grocery store.

#2 My life revolves around my kids.

#3 I secretly long to live the writer’s life.

#4 I’m too busy to get organized.

#5 I believe a matchbox car (or 2 or 5) can save the day.

#6 You can never have too many pens on hand.

#7 My life is often a tangled mess at times, a receptacle filled to the brim and spilling over.

What do the contents of your purse reveal about you?

Nose Job

20 Aug

 

This past weekend my 2-year-old son really gave me something to cry about when he gave me a full head-butt backwards into my nose and nearly broke it. Surprisingly and fortunately for me, there was no blood, swelling, or bruising after the incident. But my son, knowing he had done something wrong, looked up at me with concern and said with his thumb stuck in his mouth, “Mama owie?”

This painful experience has caused me to reflect on just how powerful and unpredictable a toddler can be. It has also reminded me of the title of a book I think I’m authorized to write–Everything I Learned About Self-Defense I Learned From My Toddler.

In the course of raising five children, I’ve had my share of mama owies and wrestling matches as I’ve struggled to get them into car seats and shopping carts. And along the way, I’ve also learned a lot of valuable self-defense skills that I think all women could benefit from.

  • Imagine how effective you would be at taking someone out if you were grabbed from behind and you gave them a full head-butt in the nose.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to abduct you if you went suddenly limp or ramrod straight.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to remove you from a room if you were clinging to a doorframe with your hands and feet or were sprawled out kicking and screaming on the floor.

My nose is still a bit tender three days later, but I’m so glad I didn’t end up with an unexpected nose job. I’m a little more cautious around my thuggish toddler now. I suppose having a “head’s up” anticipatory attitude is yet another self-defense skill to add to the list because you never know what life is going to “throw” your way.

Live Like Bananas

30 Jul

 

The other day as I was tidying up the kitchen, I happened to notice the back of the Post Selects Banana Nut Crunch cereal box. “We should all aspire to live like bananas,” it said. “They are on a permanent vacation, living in lush, tropical rainforests. From high above, a canopy of trees provides the perfect balance of sun and shade.”

“Live like bananas”–what a concept! My mind certainly feels like it has been on a permanent vacation this summer. As soon as my last Philosophy paper was turned in and my final Psychology exam was over at the beginning of May, my brain has pretty much been on a leave of absence. Since then, I haven’t done anything remotely intellectual.

For the past two months, I’ve fought against my lack of ambition and pummeled myself with guilt. Now that I apparently have more free time to write, the desire is lacking. Why can’t I seem to pull myself out of this ennui? Stacks of unread books sit on my bookshelf and bedside table while my writing output has been a dismal nil.

I think Anne Morrow Lindbergh knew about this kind of lethargy when she said, “The beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm…for any real mental discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carries…the faded straw bag, lumpy with books, clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists, and good intentions. The books remain unread, the pencils break their points, and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughs even…the tired body takes over completely. As on shipboard, one descends into a deck-chair apathy. One is forced against one’s mind, against all tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the sea-shore…One becomes…bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.”

Yes, I feel the particular beguilement of that deck-chair apathy. In my search for the “perfect balance of sun and shade,” the primeval rhythms of summer have erased all resolution, all hopeless straining, all the good intentions and all mental discipline. I know in two short weeks, that will all change. The empty hours will become all too full again. For now, I’ll live in the moment–like a banana.

Blog Block

23 Jul

I had a good talk with my creativity therapist (a.k.a. my youngest sister) this morning who encouraged me to start blogging again. (Funny to hear that particular advice coming from her since I’m the one that got her hooked on blogging in the first place!)  🙂 With a gentle nudge, she reminded me that the longer I stay away from blogging, the harder it will be to get back into it. I agreed with her and then went on to delineate some of my writing hangups which are as follows:

1. I am a perfectionist. I operate under the belief that in order for me to post anything on my blog, it must be a coherent, meaningful, polished essay. Anything less than that must wait (perhaps indefinitely) in the draft stage until it is worthy to show its brilliant, literary face.

2. I am a “slow-cooker” writer which means that I need ideas to simmer for awhile. I need a lot of time to process my thoughts before I feel they are ready to share with a public audience. This aggravating personality trait is particularly problematice since as a SAHM, I do not have large blocks of time for either solitude of meditation. Hence, my lack of prolificacy.

3. While many bloggers are quite content to be spontaneous, impulsive, and informal, I have this crazy notion that I should be the one to take blogging to a higher level–one that extends beyond the simple, random, and inane ramblings of the masses. As an idealist, I dream of being able to offer my loyal audience a thoughtful composition with some degree of edification whenever I post.

Yeah…whatever. I’m just a crazy INFP personality type that needs to chill out a bit. *Sigh*

“Think of blogging as a conversation, such as the one you’re having with me right now,” my sister said.

Okay, Beeb. I’m going to try to loosen up a bit just for you. And you’ll be proud to know I only spent an hour writing this! Ha!

A Tight Rope Daily

6 May

 

 

What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!

–Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Last night was my last class of the spring semester and now I can finally let out a huge sigh of relief! WHEW, what an ordeal! Taking Philosophy and Psychology simultaneously was very taxing not only on my brain, but on my family. And so after yet another meltdown last week, I am seriously reconsidering my schooling going forward.  It’s time to reevaluate some things and regain some balance in my life.

After a good talk with my husband (along with a good cry on his shoulder), I realized I’m trying to do too much. (Big DUH!) Very gently he pointed out that because of the way I’m “wired,” I feel compelled to give 100% to everything I do. (Not sure where I’d get that trait from….hmmmm, I wonder?) He wasn’t critical, only supportive and concerned about my mental well-being.

I thought about the stupid mental errors I’ve made over the past few months trying to keep track of my own crazy schedule along with six other busy people in my household. (Most days, it seems like we’re all going in about fifty different directions!) There were the little things like forgetting my daughter’s hip-hop dance lessons two weeks in a row or forgetting to pay tuition two months in a row at my son’s preschool.

Then there was a big thing…Last week, I bought up a bunch of meat at Safeway because they were having a great sale and for once in my life, I was thinking ahead enough to stock up. I brought the groceries into the laundry room fully intending to put everything away promptly, but then the boys started whining because they were hungry and so to appease them, I fixed their lunch. Then I had some great thoughts for an essay I was working on and before I knew it, three hours had passed. I was out watering the flowers in my front yard and thinking about how I was going to prepare all that meat when…oh no! The meat! I didn’t put the meat away! I ran into the house and there it all was, still sitting there. $50 worth of groceries that had to go out to the trash can instead of the freezer…aarrgghh!

I learned in my Psychology class that the short-term memory can only successfully manage seven (give or take a few) different things at once. Obviously, I’ve had too many things vying for attention in my brain “que” lately. It’s time for a mental vacation me thinks!

And so come fall semester, I’ll probably be cutting my schedule back to just one class. I’m also evaluating whether I should keep pursuing an English degree. I don’t have to have a degree to be a writer. I can just keep take writing classes at my community college or online and keep enjoying my association with my mentors in the English department at ACC. At this point, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but something has got to change. For those of you who often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” now you know that I DON’T do it very well. The juggling balls can’t stay in the air forever–they’re going to come crashing down sometime.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh puts it so perfectly in my favorite book Gift from the Sea: “…to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mothercore, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes. How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living. How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint–the inner inviolable core, the single eye.”

I’m not giving up on my dreams–to do so would be a death sentence to my soul. I just have to find a better way of pursuing them in moderation. Steady now!

Discovering Jim Brickman

6 Apr

 

Okay, where have I been all these years? I’m a pianist and have just discovered Jim Brickman for the first time. Usually, I stick to classical music, but about a month and a half ago, I discovered two pieces of his entitled “Where Are You Now?” and “Valentine” among the sheet music I inherited from my Aunt. I wanted to hear more Jim Brickman so I checked out his CD “Picture This” from the library and instantly fell in love with his restful renditions. Even though this particular album is over ten years old, Brickman’s New Age music is absolutely timeless.

Then of course, I had to do my “Lisa” thing and ordered the sheet music so I could learn to play these pieces for myself on my own Baldwin 6’3 grand piano. I have been working my way through the book and have found that listening to and playing Brickman’s compositions has been a great antidote for when I’m feeling strained, dejected, or melancholy.

My particular favorite is a wistful and tender piece entitled “Sound of Your Voice.”  It’s so comforting to my soul–like the feel of a warm blanket around my shoulders, or the gentle sound of rain pattering on the roof, or the loving reassurances of a good friend who believes in me.

I find that I turn to my piano for solace a lot these days. I think I could play all day long if I had that luxury. Instead I have to settle for playing whenever I can, which is usually in random moments and snatches throughout the day.

As soon as my toddler is strapped in his highchair and engaged in eating a meal, I slip into the next room and make a dash for the piano. Many times though, my piano playing most resembles a three-ring circus as I try to tinkle the ivories, juggle a toddler climbing up on my lap, keep my five-year-old from pounding on the keys alongside me, and answer my nine-year-old’s question about her homework. When I’m in this position, I often think of runners who train by running on the beach. The resistance of the sand makes their muscles stronger and when they switch to running on pavement, they can run faster and with less effort. I don’t know exactly what I’m training for, but I know that motherhood has made me a better musician–more intuitive to the subtle nuances of musical shading and interpretation that I certainly didn’t have when I was a young Music Performance Major without any life experience to draw upon.

In fact, I often get so immersed in what I’m playing that only the sound of a crash or a child crying in the next room can bring me out of my reverie. These days, I play as if my inner life and sanity depended on it–because it does. It breaks up the monotony of my days and gives me an outlet for positive self-expression. In fact, I’m having a yearning to play right now. Like a magnet, my piano pulls me toward it and I’m finding it hard to resist.

A Little Bit of Wanderlust…

3 Apr

This is Lily, an American Eskimo that was our family pet for about a year. Well, she was more like my dog, actually, and among her many “issues,” she had a problem with wanderlust. Whenever she got the chance, she would dart out the front door, run down the street, and sometimes scoot under a neighbor’s fence and out onto the golf course. No matter how hard I tried to coax her to come back, she would look at me with those black, impish eyes and then run the other way, her white, furry coat a blur of motion against the pavement and manicured lawns.

lilly.jpg

Lily’s behavior used to really aggravate me, but lately, I’m beginning to identify with her need to roam and have exciting adventures. Usually, I’m quite the homebody, but lately, I’ve got really itchy feet. I’ve had fantasies of running away–of just getting in the car and driving somewhere, anywhere just to be alone!! In my 40 years of life, I don’t think I’ve ever had that sublime experience of going somewhere by myself. I seriously think it’s about time!!!

One of the prizes for a writing contest I recently entered includes a weekend at a writer’s retreat. I’m praying to win…I desperately need the solitude! I don’t care that the “retreat” is just a tiny one-room cabin in the middle of nowhere. It sounds absolutely heavenly to me! And if I don’t win, I think I’m just going to have to go anyway…

Another opportunity I have to get away is in the middle of June. That is if I can figure out how to make arrangments for five kids for six days…As the new Vice President of Scholarship for Sigma Phi (ACC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa), I’ve been invited to attend the Honors Institute in San Francisco. Ah…intellectual stimulation, leadership development, a chance to explore San Fran. What could be more refreshing?

Then there’s the temptation of the ultimate getaway that my book club girlfriends just proposed. In the fall of 2010, just after my graduation from Arapahoe Community College, we want to go on a walking tour of England together. Again, another fabulous experience I am dying to have–to go traipsing across the moors Jane Austen style, with flowing gowns, petticoats, and bonnets. Well, maybe we’ll forgo the period costumes, but not the traipsing part. I am seriously in on the adventure. In the meantime, I’ll save my pennies and hopes while I try to restain my Lily-like tendencies to bolt.