Blogging Mama

Total Pageviews

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grave Equals Grave

I was trying to come up with a catchy title for what's bopping around in my brain today. The words I'm hearing were spoken by my daddy when I was a little girl: "don't take yourself so seriously". Of course, I could have used that, but I wanted something catchier so I goggled synonyms of the word serious (this took a while as I spell synonym all sorts of ways: synonim, sinonim...anyway, you'd think I'd learn). Here's what I found:

austere, bound, cold sober, contemplative, determined, earnest, funereal, genuine, grave, grim, honest, etc...

The word 'grave' sort of caught my eye. I guess because I know that if we take ourselves too seriously, it leads to stress which in an unhealthy amount can lead to health problems which eventually lead us to our death or our grave as you will. That's the moral of today's story...take yourself too seriously or spend too much time being GRAVE and you'll wind up in the grave.

Now, if you've read any previous posts, or you know me at all, you know I'm not about pointing out a problem without bring a solution. That's why the blog isn't stopping with the moral of the story. Let's talk about things we can do to help be the opposite of serious...which brings me back to the thesaurus for antonyms of serious:

playful, non critical, soft

We may be onto something here. If we play more, judge less, and go for 'soft' instead of 'hard', we may just find ourselves laughing more and stressing less. Play doesn't come natural to every one, and if you aren't sure how to play you may want to borrow a toddler. Once you have one, if you aren't sure what to do with them just tickle them and see what happens. Children don't care if our clothes match, if our hair is combed, or if our breath stinks. Children care about bear hugs, tickle fights, and marshmallows. Next time you make a cup of hot chocolate, throw in some bright colored mini marshmallows and you'll likely finding yourself smiling. Make the same beverage in a bright colored coffee mug and you might even laugh. If that's too much for you, start small. Before heading to the office, toss on two different socks; you'll be the only one who knows your socks don't match and if you think about it as you go about business, you'll smile about your little 'secret'.

Ultimately, we don't want to take ourselves too seriously, so we don't want to judge ourselves so harshly. This is really about us, right? The answer is 'sort of'...if you're like me, you're harder on yourself than you are on others. It's hard to give ourselves a break, but if we start giving others a break first, it will change our thinking and allow us to be easier on ourselves. For example, I hate being late. If I'm late, I feel like I'm sending the message that I don't care, that I'm too busy for you, and I grumble at myself all the way to where I'm going and I rehearse my heart felt apology while devising a plan to make sure it will NEVER happen again. I have friends who have been five minutes late for every gathering we've had over our 20 year friendship. I know they care about me, I know they're not too busy, and I know that life just happens...I don't judge them at all, so when it's my turn to be late, I try to remind myself that it's okay. I don't need to stress, grumble, or make excuses - they love me as I am, and I need to let it go. If people don't love you in 'raw form', when you're late, or when you have no money in your wallet, they simply don't love you. It's so easy to understand when you look beyond take that internally and say "I love me without make up, I love me even if I'm late, and I love me even if I'm broke" as you love yourself more, you'll judge yourself less and that stress and seriousness will melt away like a soft squishy marshmallow.

The next time something goes wrong in your life (and trust me it will...probably within the next five minutes), try to find the humor in the situation - be playful with it! If you can't control it, play with it...and if you can't control it or play with it...avoid it! No one needs to be so grave that they end up in the grave!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and plenty of playfulness! ~Crystal

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rolling Pins and Elephants

I finished this short story a few days ago (in a notebook with a pen - specifically a fine point pen, because they're so much nicer to write with) and it just took a while to get it polished up enough for the blog. I'll be showing it to my writer's group next week which will mean even more changes and hopefully it will be my next submission - and the winning submission I hope - for an upcoming flash fiction contest. Please share your thoughts on the blog, or with a private message/email. Thank you as always for your support!

"Honey, are you sure you're feeling okay?"

"YES. Why do you keep asking?"

" reason just don't seem yourself."


...furnace kicks in with a whirrr...

....plip...plop...the faucet must be leaking again...

The same conversation that always leaves the room feeling large and empty. I imagine that most couples start the day with a good morning kiss or enduring exchange. We did in the beginning.

I wanted to ask Phil more questions but that always resulted in a fight. I may as well get back to things in my world and stop fretting about him and my suspicions that he was having an affair.

2 1/2 Cups of flour
1 Cup of butter (unsalted & cut into 1/2" cubes)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6-8 Tablespoons of ice water

The rolling pin had originally been a gift from Father to Mother. I helped him pick it out the Christmas I turned eight. Heavy marble with wooden handles. We bought the wooden stand to hold it in. It was too lovely to toss in a drawer and it matched the marble canisters, cutting board, and other kitchen accessories we bought Mother the year before. I had been so proud when she passed the rolling pin on to me. I felt like an accomplished chef with the cool weight of it in my hands - rolling my pie crusts rhythmically as familiar Christmas tunes played on the iPod.

This was the first Thanksgiving in a long time that we were hosting. Our children wouldn't be coming, but Phillip's large family would fill the table. I love cooking for his family. No one watches their diet or asks me to skimp on butter, sugar, or salt. For some families, six pies for nine people might be a waste. I was confident Phillip's Dad would set the example with one slice of pumpkin and a slice of apple (and possibly a slice of cherry after a little after dinner nap). Last week I dropped off a mince meat pie and he ate it in a single day - at least someone appreciated my baking and love of the kitchen.

"I'm headed out for a run. Did you want to come dear?"

"Phillip. Really? I run only if being chased by something larger than myself."

He muttered something about not living in Africa (in reference to my ample thighs and round middle). it had been years since he called me an elephant, but it was obviously still his issue. He smiled as if I hadn't heard.

"Well - I'm off. Enjoy your pastry."

I smiled despite the insult. His insults should hurt, but I enjoy being a size 18 and my weight has never bothered me a bit. In spite, I popped one of the butter cubes in my mouth enjoying the temperature, texture, and flavor of the pure creamy substance.

"It smells amazing in here Savannah! What are you making today?" inquired my neighbor Cathy as she tucked her feet under herself and settled into the love seat for our weekly chat.

"Thank you. The answer is...Pies! Lots and lots of pies! I have pumpkin, cherry, apple, and sour cream with raisin. You'll take one home, won't you love?"

"I really shouldn't. I'm still seeing the mystery man I told you about and he's a health nut."

"I know that story all too well. You're tiny though Cath. Certainly he can't think YOU are fat?"

"That's the thing - he talks about how amazing my body is but he's always comparing this relationship to his failed marriage. He says his wife had a hard body and she let herself get disgusting. It worries me that he's too obsessed with size."

"Have you seen any pictures of her?" 

"No. I asked though. He said she went from being my size to being larger than - oh what's her name? That celebrity on Cheers who has the pretty face?"

"Kirsty Allie?"

"That's it! What size do you think she is anyway?"

"She's got to be my size, like an 18 or so...I wouldn't say she's disgusting."

"Me either. He never says the word 'fat' but he refers to her as being slightly smaller than an African Elephant. I can't imagine calling someone you love an elephant."


"Savannah, what's wrong?"

"Nothing Cathy. I'm sure you're right, you probably should skip the pie."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting it Right This Time?

Getting it Right This Time?

I knew that I had been forgiven the moment I read the prayer with Pastor in his office that day. After several lonely years away from my church and my friends, I would finally be welcomed back with open arms and forgiven. Yes, I had three children with three different fathers, I was divorced, a single mother raising two of my three children, and I had been a young woman who placed her first born for adoption. I had been a mess. Left church because I chose to live a life of sin, and now I was back and begging for forgiveness. It would have been easier to stay away, but doing the right thing was not always the easy thing…or at least that’s what Daddy had told me.

Shortly after my confession and absolution, I met an amazing man. We had a fabulous first few weeks. Then I found out that he had been a repeat drunk driver. He would spend our first Christmas and Valentine’s Days on house arrest. He said he would understand if I decided to end things. However, I couldn’t very well make his faults out to be any worse than mine. If he could accept me as I was with my sorted past, I could certainly do the same for him. We made it through several tough months and after nearly two years of courtship, he proposed and I said yes.

Right after the wedding, we decided to try and have a baby together. It didn’t take long, and I was taking a pregnancy test…and it was positive. We were excited and scared at the same time. I teased him because this would be the first time I was married and pregnant (in that order) and I said it seemed to go against my rebellious nature. Joking of course. It really felt great, and I was so excited to be getting it right this time. Like the old song “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage”…la la la

Today was the day for my first doctor’s appointment for this pregnancy. I knew I was about six weeks along and that the baby would arrive next June, but my Doctor wanted to confirm things and answer any questions I might have. We hadn’t told many people yet, and wanted to wait a few weeks to really go public. In fact, we hadn’t even told our families. I wasn’t sure of my mother’s reaction, and his sister was scheduled for a c-section in a few days and we didn’t want to steal the lime light. I pulled into the clinic and was shocked to see my mother’s sport utility vehicle parked next to the only open spot in the lot. I parked next to her and thought about how I was going to explain my presence at the clinic, without spilling the beans about the new addition to our family.

I walked hesitantly into the clinic hoping I wouldn’t see her and sighed in relief when the waiting room was empty. I marched up to the reception area and gave them my new married name, address, phone number, and updated my emergency contact information so my husband would be notified if something went wrong. As we were finishing up, I heard my gynecologist chatting with a patient. As they moved closer, it became painfully clear that my mother was the patient and not only was she at the same clinic, she was seeing the same Doctor, and now she was only a few feet away from me . “think fast” I said to myself just in time to smile and greet her. The only thing I could say was “oh, you see Doctor Fischer too?”
“Yes, and what are you seeing him for?” Mother asked (knowing full well I wasn’t due for an annual for quite some time)

“oh, he’s just my regular Doctor – you know. I’ll see you later, ok?” And I quickly finished the paperwork and scampered off to the lab to pee in the cup I had discretely tucked in my purse so she wouldn’t notice.

After the lab, I had a few moments in the waiting area again. The ladies in the reception area had clearly noticed our game of cat and mouse. They thought it was sweet when I explained that I didn’t want Mother to know until the risk of miscarriage was all but gone – she had miscarried two children before carrying me to term and I explained that I wanted to protect her from that sort of painful memory. They promised they hadn’t said anything but said they had a feeling that she was suspicious.

The nurse called me into the office and my blood pressure was unusually high. I promised her it was not a problem and was induced by the uncomfortable situation I had just endured. I laughed nervously as I explained the situation and thought to myself…’I’m getting it right this time, I suppose something had to be a little off to make me feel like I was living on the edge’

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and moments that make your heart beat a little faster than others <3

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

a little flash fiction for this brisk Wisconsin evening - enjoy

"May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and explanations you can grow from." ~Crystal

Eyes Wide Open
How one question explained an entire childhood and helped me realize what I didn’t want…

I remember spending a lot of time with Dad when I was growing up. He taught me about things he enjoyed – gardening, reading, cooking, and he instilled in me a great love of nature and the outdoors. Mom is in my memories but not in an active role. I can see her sitting on the couch knitting, but I don’t remember DOING anything with her. There was arguing about what I would wear to school, and I remember Mom forbidding me to wear lipstick, hair spray, or perfume…but as much as I try to, I don’t remember shopping trips, baking cookies, school field trips, or anything with Mom. They’re both gone now and there are a handful of photographs showing Dad and I (in the sandbox, at the beach, riding horses) but no action shots of Mom. There’s a few of Mom and David, as well as the annual church photograph over-posed, over-edited, with each of us over-dressed…but that’s all I have…even David is gone now.
Not much of a story and I could really stop right here. My name is BobbiJo. My mother hated me, my father was a drunk, my brother David was a drunk…they’re all dead…so I guess it’s just me against the world. A photo album, a check from the realtor who sold my childhood home, a ton of debt from my student loans, and a Ford Tempo in need of a muffler – that’s all there is. The End…
If only it were that simple.
My name is BobbiJo and I’m addicted to food and the approval of others. Go ahead…look back at the cover of the book…you assume that because I’m addicted to food that I’m fat, right? I’m not overweight and I never have been. I’m addicted to food in the same way an accountant is addicted to numbers. I want to know everything there is to know about it. Why does butter taste so amazing when you use it in a croissant recipe? Why is cream cheese frosting so much better on a carrot cake than plain vanilla frosting? Why choose Mozarella instead of American cheese for a pizza? How can coconut oil be good for you when it’s practically a solid at room temperature? I love food so much that I spent the last six years of my life studying it. My passion is nutrition and health. My psychologist would say that I control my diet and exercise because I didn’t feel in control of anything growing up…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dad worked in a wood factory in the small town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. He worked all day, drank and played cards at night, and spent weekends playing the part of doting father by day and abusive husband by night. Mom stayed home raising David and I. We lived in a two-story home on a corner lot. We had a big garden, a dark dingy basement, and had a lovely bookshelf in my room for my Nancy Drew story books. David and I were only three years apart and we lived close to school and would often walk together. We didn’t have much in common as children. I dreamed of having a horse someday. David dreamed of owning a gun so he could kill things.
I should clarify Dad. He wasn’t abusive to David or I and he wasn’t physically abusive to Mom either. He was probably “normal” in comparison to most middle-aged men in the 50’s. He gave Mom just enough money for groceries, expected her to cook, clean, raise the children, and he had no intention of doing more than taking the garbage out every Monday night. He felt he had done his part by earning  a paycheck. He referred to Mom and her interests as “silly” or “frilly” and I don’t remember kissing, hugging, or much talking between my parents. Maybe I should have said he was a neglectful husband instead of abusive…oh, either way…not the kind of man you’d find this girl going out with.
I want someone kind and gentle, a good communicator, and someone who holds my hand in public (or maybe even puts an arm around my shoulder in church on Sundays). Some of the men I met at school were getting perms and worrying more about their shoes and clothing than their grades. That wasn’t the type of gentle I was looking for either. I hadn’t dated much, but I had an idea of what I was looking for and as much as Dad was my best friend growing up, I didn’t want a husband who resembled him in any way.
Why am I writing this? I suppose I should tell you. It’s part of my therapy. I am trying to figure out what makes me tick so I can work through my ‘issues’…the question really should be: “why are you reading this?”?
Maybe you’re as crazy as I am…or maybe you can relate…or maybe it’s just nice to be crazy WITH someone for a change.
Mom. You want to know about Mom…here’s my earliest memory of Mom and I having a conversation:
“BobbiJo – you can’t be walking around the house in just a nightgown anymore. You’re practically ten years old!”
“What am I supposed to wear?”
“Put on a robe. Your brother and Dad shouldn’t be looking at your breasts and vagina.”
(thinking to myself…couldn’t she call them something else? Anything but that? Really?)
“A robe?”
“Don’t you sass talk me young lady – get over here”
I thought she was going to take me over her knee. That would have been preferred…she really wanted to ask me if Dad had ever touched my vagina or my breasts. I remember sitting in awe thinking Dad was a terrible person if she thought he would do something like that. She explained to me that there were bad people out there and that bad things happened to little girls all the time – “little girls who show off their breasts and vaginas in the company of men and boys”
I had never felt so dirty. I thought Dad was dirty. I thought David was dirty.
I wore a bath robe from that time forward, but I still felt dirty underneath it. Vagina and breasts were dirty words in my nine year old brain, and I must be a dirty girl since I had breasts and a vagina. Ewe…
There were conversations after that. Mom didn’t want me sitting close to Dad or David on the couch, she didn’t want me wearing skirts, thin blouses, or anything that might draw attention to my figure. She reminded me that I was ugly and no amount of hairspray, makeup of perfume was going to change that. David enjoyed chiming right in about his ugly little sister BobbiJo. BobbiJo with the good grades, BobbiJo with the pigtails, BobbiJo who didn’t have any friends other than her imaginary horse Flicka.
I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. Dad died my freshman year of college and I didn’t go back for the funeral. Had Mom died, I might have gone back…but with Dad gone, there was no one I cared to talk with. I was a Christian and I knew he was in a happier place. I rationalized that he wouldn’t have wanted to me to miss school for something as silly as a funeral anyway. Mom wouldn’t have wanted to deal with ugly stupid BobbiJo anyhow. I sent a card.
A few weeks after the funeral Mom sent me a letter explaining how ungrateful I was and how she was changing her will so David got everything and I got nothing. She warned me not to come home again as I was not welcome there. I didn’t hear from David and didn’t care if he knew about her intentions and the letter or not. I didn’t need either one of them.
A family friend who went to church with Mom sent a letter a few months before I graduated with my BS, Mom had been confined to a wheelchair due to her uncontrollable diabetes and David was taking care of her. David was also in poor health due to his drinking and drug use. Althea wondered if I would come home to see if I could talk some sense into one or both of them. I tossed her letter into the recycling bin under my desk and went back to studying for an exam about artificial sweeteners.
Mom died and I flew home for her funeral, not out of respect, but because I heard David was a wreck. The Attorney explained that the house was left to David and I, under the stipulation that we were joint owners but David could live there as long as he liked. I didn’t think this was so terrible of an arrangement, until he stopped paying the bills and taxes and I found out that I would be responsible for them. He was living without heat or electricity. The house stunk…
This went on for nearly two years. By the time I completed my Masters degree, I was supporting David and myself. He wasn’t able to work because he had done so much harm to his body with the drinking and drugs that he was barely human. He lived like an animal, smelled like and animal, and to make things worse…he had taken up with this woman and her child…so instead of a single wild animal living in my childhood home, it was like a pack of wolves. The woman was crazy, but eventually she couldn’t take his lifestyle and she moved out (or so I thought).
I week after graduation I got the call. David had died and I had to return to Two Rivers to clean up his last and final mess. The girlfriend claimed he had promised to buy her son a laptop and she was sure it was in the house somewhere. Three phone calls to the Police and a restraining order later, I had hoped I heard the last of her. I had waitressed all through school and used every cent of savings to get current with the bills on Mom and Dad’s house. I buried David, sold the house, settled the estate, and here I am…
I’m looking for a place to live, a job as a dietician, a new car, and hopefully a man. I’m not even sure where to start, but talking to Pastor seems like a good place to begin.
“Pastor – I just don’t understand why she treated me that way.”
“BobbiJo – don’t you see it? You couldn’t see it as a child, but you’re a grown woman now. She was jealous of you.”
“Of me?”
“She was putting you down because you were everything she would never be. You’re independent, smart, and beautiful…she saw you as a threat to who she was, a threat to her marriage, and she was jealous of you for all those years.”
“I don’t know what it’s like to be a mother, but I can’t imagine being jealous of your own child. I don’t want to be like that. What can I do?”
“I’m glad you came to see me, but you should probably sign yourself up for some counseling dear. You’ll be fine, but talking to someone and praying about it will go a long way in becoming a good wife and eventually a good mother.”