Letters to Santa. It’s time. Postage due.
To get myself into the season I looked up some letters to Santa from kids, the last of the true and faithful believers. I stopped after the first one.
You would have too. It said...
I saw Mommy kissing a Man In Brown Shoes, Shorts, and Socks. The name sewn on his shirt was Steve.
...she said he was an ELF.
Santa, do you really have an elf named Steve,
and were those packages under his arm meant for me?
If so, you made me very happy.
And Mommy too.
Well, tomorrow IS the first day of December, and I am aghast to think that SOME people cannot pull themselves together for the next 25 days, and act like grown ups.
Responsible grown ups.
Is it possible, in this age of constant surveillance, is it possible that anyone walks around fooling themselves into a false sense of privacy?
I mean, even I, of the elder generation, stop and pause at the back window before I turn out the light for the night, and wave a hand up towards the sky.
You never know, some poor soul may be flying their drone high in the sky, and wouldn’t a friendly wave good night be considered neighborly?
However, now that tomorrow is December First, there is a secondary word of warning, you, however, may not heed.
You may NOT be a believer.
In Santa Claus.
I, however, a lifelong believer in the Jolly Old Man, would hasten to caution against reckless behavior.
Misbehave at your own peril.
Besides, would it be so terribly terrible,
to take the pledge?
The Christmas Pledge.
That for one month, or at least the next 24 days...
You will try to do your BEST.
To be your best self?
Because even if you do not believe,
someone’s eyes are riveted on You.
Not who you think.
No, not Santa, peeking through the window.
I’m talking about the kids.
The kids squinting eyes shut in the sweet creep of sleep, making whispered wishes into the dimming light.
The kids standing in line at the mall, patiently holding your hand, sneaking a glimpse of the ruddy cheeks, the white as snow beard, and the red velvet suit, black boots and a Ho Ho Ho Hello What’s Your Name Wish Keeper.
The kids making snowflake ornaments in Pre School, presents for Mommy and Dad. Covered in glue, glitter and a grin.
Children who believe in good for goodness sake.
One day, in the not too distant future, if you give them YOUR BEST SELF, as a present placed under the tree, they might even mistake you for the Real Santa.
What an extraordinary honor.
Tied up with a bow.
In the meantime, between now and the end of the month, if you need extra practice, may I suggest, try your hand at singing your kids to sleep.
Bedtime lullabies soothe the weary soul.
Sing a song for the child in all of us.
This subject is especially dear to my heart as I received a very special birthday gift this year. My son made me a CD of the songs he sings to my granddaughter.
I am listening to them now as I write.
...For these are the songs I sang to him and to his brother, when they were small, and on the cusp of sleep.
So maybe, just maybe, once upon a time, long long ago, I gave a gift that just keeps on giving.
The Best Of Life, you see, is possible...
...if you believe...
A few suggestions,
if you need a nudge in the right direction...
My Favorite Things/Julie Andrews
Over the Rainbow/Judy Garland
Somewhere/Jim Bryant & Marni Nixon
God Only Knows/The Beach Boys
Sunrise, Sunset/Chaim Topol, Norma Craine
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
When Is the Last Time...
And presented you...
With a random act of kindness?
Not for profit. Not for hire. Nor for any reason other than...
A need to say I love you.
To surround you with the simple message...
That you are valued.
Worth the time.
Worth the effort.
When was the last time you opened your mailbox, Snail Mail or Internet...and there lying in wait a message that says...
Hi...I thought about you today.
Hello...you matter to me.
Or found a box of your favorite chocolates on your pillow.
A rose on the counter with a post it note smiley face.
An invitation to lunch or for coffee?
A walking partner in the park on a sunny afternoon?
A bowl of popcorn and a movie sitting side by side holding hands?
When was it?
When was the last time a fellow, a friend, a child, a neighbor, a loved one, reached out to you first...
To make you feel as special as you try everyday to make them feel.
Sent you a You Tube Vid or a silly text message with a grinning emoticon...
If you are in the middle of the valley between life’s highs and lows, there is nothing more uplifting than a kindness offered up for free.
No strings attached. No tit for tat. No you help me up then I will help you. No itemized statement. No legal fees. No, the check is in the mail, therefore I will help you.
There is an enormous canyon separating I will try and I did...
Who was the last person in your life to walk the tightrope across the canyon...to flex a muscle...to wield a pen....to wander the aisles in the supermarket to pore over greeting cards to find exactly the right one to make you smile?
Or are you sitting here in the solitude of silence thinking that like the proverbial tree in the forest, if you fall, no one will hear you cry out.
Existence. Is. Real.
We exist...therefore we are...or so they say...but I promise you that when the land is barren and left to rot and ruin...with not a drop to drink or nary a place to lay your head....
Please please remember...
People Move On.
They will seek comfort when there is none.
And if you are nearby, and watch them struggle with their thirst, then you only enable them leaving.
Searching for new horizons...for those who value their worth. And not looking back to where they started...but instead to the future where there will be love and tenderness and that infinitely precious and too frequently hoarded gift ...
Random acts of kindness.
The small and tender acts that let us know...we are here. We do matter and someone knows it to be true.
As it has been said, time after time after time, you never know what you have lost...until it is gone.
It is a wonder of human transcendence.
The ability to focus simply on one footstep after another. Nothing more. To continue to move forward, despite blisters, thirst, solitary nights in the wilderness, and an extremely damaging pair of ill fitting boots.
The terrain so daunting, and yet so stunningly beautiful, that emotions, the quakingly aching of heartbreak, can find no air to breathe, for each and every step requires a singular focus. The time supposedly dedicated to internal inspection, loses out to the need to survive.
An internal combustion engine, she is. Driven only by the desire to move from Here to There, as all other trials to bring comfort have failed.
I watched the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, and it is a faithful representation of what Cheryl wrote. But if you desire to walk alongside Cheryl, as she crosses the Sierra Nevada, and arrives at the Bridge Of the Gods, you must read her book. The narrative is so compelling, so honest and straightforward, that it reminds me of the journeys of the Yard Yetis. The Women Of the Garden seen only in the Wild, but never in the Tame.
I have written often and before, asking the question, where are all the tough broads when we need them?
Cheryl Strayed is a tough broad. Capable of survival skills, but also open to the random acts of kindness, sprinkled generously along the trail. The Pacific Crest Trail. Where solitary travelers, cross paths, and offer each other, a moment of companionship, a word of wisdom, and most importantly, a nod of recognition, for the sheer effort and bravery of a solitary journey.
The truth is, as I read it, gazing up at the stars, imagining I am on my back in a tent with only the night sky and the rustle of unknown critters howling and slithering in the dark, I whisper the word Cheryl used to propel her forward.
No longer running from fear, but moving under the power of her mind and body,
The Yard Yeti Women know this Power. Walk past their fear and accept the random kindness of strangers to power walk their way out of the haze and daze of a muddled life.
You need to know that I have met each and every Yard Yeti. At the beginning and at the end of their journey from Here to There. Resourceful and brave, yet fully aware, of the tiny acts of kindness that kept them steady and straight on the path ahead.
Cheryl Strayed was not a victim. Cheryl strayed onto the PCT not to hide from the world, not to escape into the wilderness, but rather to find a way out, from the hurt and the pain, some self-inflicted, and some merely the chaos that we do not control, and can never escape.
I have a granddaughter.
My prayer for her is as simple and as complicated as Cheryl’s journey. I will buy her a pair of decent boots. I will tell her to lace them up, to buy a map, to be open to the kindness of strangers, and to never ever ever be a victim.
I will encourage her to do the work. To flex her muscles, to stride up and down the hills and valleys of life with a firm determination, that she is the captain of her life. I will tell her to be kind to others, but to develop a thick skin, a tough hide, to deflect the thorns, the barbs, and the catcalls that are sure to come her way.
Women, I will tell her, are capable of a long and sustainable journey.
Women, are not victims.
I will tell her the history of Rosa Parks, of Madame Curie, of Eleanor Roosevelt, of those who have gone before, with courage and bravery. I will tell her of the women who have lost their freedoms, who have no hope of a life better than what they see day after day.
I will tell her that she can and will make a difference, simply by lacing her boots and standing tall.
Knowing her parents, I know that she will wear a back pack. Hike the mountains. Stand atop the peak, stretch her arms wide, secure in her own strength.
Yes, oh yes, I want to give her a Retro Easy Bake Oven, but believe me, I will teach her that once she has mastered the art of cooking for herself, her task is to teach her significant other to do likewise, and to walk beside her, not ahead.
So you, Tough Broads, the ones I know personally, stand up one more time.
Stand up for this new generation, bear witness, and set an example, that random acts of kindness, and personal bravery will always walk hand in hand. Whether on the PCT trail, in the sands of the Middle East, across the ocean or down the street in the cul de sac.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Again and again and again.
To begin the conversation I will make a full throated confession.
I am obsessed with the movie Jersey Boys.
No, that is a half truth.
I am obsessed with the last seven minutes of the movie.
I recorded it.
I press Play over and over and over again. When I am alone. In the dark. So I can dance. Dance with the cast as they saunter down the street making moves I made in high school and college.
Side step side step, back step, clap clap clap.
Dance. Dance. Dance. Hit Replay and Dance Again.
Shuffle shuffle sing along loud and strong.
Dance dance dance.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Until I hear steps on the stairs that are not rhythmic, will not match mine, and in fact will result in a snort and a smart retort that I am a few fries short of a Happy Meal, a few clowns short of a circus, and my personal favorite, a few peas short of a casserole.
True. True. True.
All of the above is true.
I am a Jersey Boys obsessive compulsive,
DMS page 5009, addict.
I admit it openly and with absolutely no remorse.
I am an Equal Opportunity Obsessive, allowing for those who must rinse, wash and repeat in whatever form or shape floats their boat.
With one exception.
Fallen leaves obsessivitis.
A few days now past, Halloween, and I think some evil witch must have cast a spell over my neighborhood.
Halloween night was cold, misty and damp. The next morning, after an additional hour of sleep, should have been a respite. A chance to erase the sugar throttled high of the night before, into a few additional snores and a snuggle into the pillow.
Instead, the morning air is filled with the sounds of motors and engines,
bristles and brushes roaring to life.
The sun is shining on what is now 8AM, but is truly 7AM, as my body clock has not yet readjusted to the time change, but I hear the engines roaring.
John Deere riding mowers revving,
leaf chasers munching,
and bags a filling.
Obsessive Leaf Lurkers Running Amok
It is time, I think, as I slip into my Four Seasons Super Hero cape and mask.
It is time to begin a twelve step program into recovery for these
The Four Seasons.
I can identify.
Frankie....no that’s not right.
The Four Seasons.
Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer.
We have Four Seasons.
Summer is hot and sticky and humid.
Winter is cold and icy,
and full of snow angels and traffic jams.
Spring is lime green, rainy and the barely there buds of new beginnings.
FALL. Pay attention now! Heed the headlines!
FALL means just that.
The leaves, the detritus of the other three seasons, are about to, going to, meant to, FALL FALL FALL FALL all over every single square inch of the Earth.
This is the Season for FALLING.
Falling falling leaves of every color shape and size. Crimson, ochre, cinnamon, and clover. Light, easily winded, teasingly trickled flutters of a life well lived. The wind whips the trees into a frenzy, and the piles coast along, landing on places and spaces we least expect.
One of the most beautiful seasons of the year. Ask the 100 mile snaking line of RV’ers, on the road up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, why are you here? No one has a rake or a leaf blower or a plastic bag. They are here to admire. To gaze.
To adore the seasonal pause, when the wind is cool, the air smells of bonfires and football games.
Okay so maybe these folks lined up across the highway are obsessives too, but my neighbors????. My neighbors are in need of an intervention. They rake, they blow, they gather, they bag. They mulch, they blow, they rake, they bag. The winds blow, the leaves continue their decline and fall.
The fight is on.
The battle for perfectly green grass,
with not a leaf in sight.
I have an uncommonly enormous spider weaving a web on the screen outside my porch. I sat and watched it weave and spin, until a leaf settled close by on the web. I swear the following is true. The spider stopped its manic weaving, and waved. Waved one of its eight spindly legs, in gratitude. In thanks for a welcome pause in the chaos of weaving and building and catching and eating and so on and so on and so on. For as colorful as my spider friend is, this leaf was mind blowingly charismatic. So supremely colored in vibrant hues, it radiated the air with the palette of...
Remember the days of old, when walking to school, we kicked the leaves, made piles to fall into, tossed them into the air and watched them fall. We made crayon rubbings of their splendidly veined exteriors, celebrated their colorings as we plowed across fields in search of the perfect pumpkin. I made leaf placemats for my mother, and once, even, pressed one leaf, one beautiful crimson leaf between two sheets of waxed paper, until it ached.
Then I used it as a bookmark,
to mark my favorite pages.
We are obsessed with the need to repeat our steps over and over again to mark our place in time.
To make sure there is no mistake.
No error in judgement.
No coloring outside of the lines.
FALL is the least perfect season of all, you fools.
FALL is the season when colors riot.
When everything in life that is a mistake, becomes an error forgiven.
whispering in the distance,
but He is Not Here Yet.
the blowers and the rakes.
fall into a pile of leaves, and make LEAF Angels.
With no place to land,
except on a hardpack of ice and snow.
However, FALL, is a forgiving place that allows me the courtesy of a warm sweet dance,
in front of the fireplace,
while the Four Seasons,
coax me to move my feet.
The GREEN season is over...the Season Of Pandemonium is upon us...
Be over the top.
in the Ice Age of Winter.
and this time I DO mean Frankie...