Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sharing a Laugh...

Image result for powerballReal Life is not winning a Power ball Ticket. But I bought one anyway. There’s a hefty number of shrinks who will tell us all that “it’s gambling”, “it’s the thrill of it”, etc. that keeps us buying those little orange tickets. I would agree with most of that over-analyzing, but I don’t feel guilty for falling prey to the hype of winning a billion dollars.

My Mom and I sat in a Chinese restaurant last week and made a pack to buy two tickets using our the numbers from our recently opened fortune cookies. We would split the billion in half. We shook on it. Sounds relatively innocuous for a lunch time topic, but what ensued after that was far from our normal days together.

We laughed. And laughed again. And again – coming up with all the things we were going to do with our winnings. My Mom and I used to laugh all the time over silly things, but as we have both aged, it doesn’t seem to happen that we act like high school freshman, giggling and belly-laughing at our own humor. Ours was an irreverent humor that we shared, laced with sarcasm and cynicism, often totally ridiculous and usually not PC.

If I listed all the things she said, you would probably yawn…it was clearly one of those moments where “ya had to be there” to laugh now. As we were driving over the bridge to Marysville, she dead panned “I know, I’ll buy Marysville”.  If you grew up in Marysville, a town surrounded by a levy system that is stagnating because of  it’s non-growth and old school politics, you’d get how funny that was.  At another point in the car, she told me that even if we one $4 dollars, she wanted her half…because she needed some stamps. I was dying! I told her for a million bucks I would manage her money for her, which sent her off into a coughing fit. And I reminded her that when she croaked, I would still get more money that she did, as I would inherit my "daughter's" share of her estate.

It wasn’t so much the notion that we had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, it’s that it was a “good” day.  Mom is soon to be 91 and she said that day that she’s starting to “feel” old. We have our shopping days together every two weeks, and usually talk about innocuous things. I bring her up to speed with the going-on with the kids and their families, etc. 

She’s from a different era than I, lived in the country the better part of her whole life. We have the typical mother-daughter issues that I have spent years trying to overcome. I pretty much avoid the tricky topics (I leave those to Dave who adores his occasional porch-side political chats with her). I guess I hadn’t realized that we hadn’t laughed a lot together in years like we used to...until we laughed together over Power Ball. The price of the ticket was worth it.

It was a good day. Even if we didn’t win.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

If you don't write it down...

Does it still count as a resolution? Well, last year I wrote down my dreams for 2015 (Carpe Diem) on this very day and I still didn't do very well at achieving much success, so I'm thinking "not".  But it's the same day in January and I feel that a couple of thoughts might be worth noting (or not):

1) Let Go. Period. Really. Maybe I should get Amy's tattoo...

2) Let creativity rule.

Yep, that's it. 

I am looking forward to more wrapping my head around sewing and creating this year and more letting go of old habits. I'm not really talking about healthy eating, less drinking, more exercising or any of those hackneyed, trite promises that we make in January (although, aren't they a given?). I just want to surrender this whole beautiful mess that I am to someone who has that power to change it, because, obviously, I don't. So I'll leave the whole body/mind/soul thing up to God and I'll focus on the good stuff that I can control:

1) Continued collaboration with the team at Stonemountain and my muse, Zan. May we create more magic in fabric this year, FabricLady!!!

2) Less Facebook and more Instagram!! I love all the sewists and designers and fellow creatives that I have discovered on Instagram.

3) Organize and divest, organize and divest. All things simple, easy, clean, fresh, etc.

4) Continued giving of my time to worthwhile stuff...Dress a Girl, Women's Empowerment.

I finally got to actually sew at yesterday's sew fest

More of this...

And this..

Maybe less of this...

Let's not get carried away, Laurel.  You know you won't do that.
A little more of this...

Maybe more of this?

No, I'm not becoming a drinker...but a tiny sip of this is pretty nice.
Definitely more of this...

Taking better care of me, inside and out.
And this...

Capturing life...

And finally, most definitely less of this...

It's going to be a great year...


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Living in the Short Rows

When she travels, my friend Peg always takes a knitting project with her for the airplane trip. For her holiday travel this Christmas season she was working on a lace project which was an especially complex pattern that incorporated a technique called short rows.  Short rows are Satan’s handiwork, designed to confound the best of knitters and keep us humble. (Not really but it feels that way sometimes.)

Wrap and turn, knit back, wrap and turn, knit back…and so on and so on. 

 Short rows never seem to end and you never seem to get anywhere…but somehow you plod through them and if you don’t scrap the whole project in total frustration, at some point sometime you finish strong, hopefully with your sanity in tact. 

Sounds somewhat like life, at times? Aside from the normal ups and downs and twists and turns of life, we all have periods of living in the “Short Rows”. Perhaps our plans took a slight unexpected detour, onto a road filled with potholes and sharp turns. We brave the challenge with aplomb, recalling all those wise words from our mothers who probably faced more adversity than we ever will… we steel our face in a smile, we grab our faith and try like hell not to go backwards.

Wrap and turn, knit back…

Perhaps the most difficult of all of life’s ups and downs is change itself. We all want to grow emotionally and spiritually. We call it maturity.  To stay in the same groove of life is stagnating…a broken record of sorts. But when life's changes take us places that are unpleasant or even frightening, our steely smiles dissipates. We gird our loins, so to speak and opt for the “just get me through this” approach.

Wrap and turn, knit back…

The goal in knitting short rows it to not leave “holes” in your pattern by carefully wrapping a strand of yarn around the last stitch in the row and turning the piece around to knit back to the beginning. An experienced knitter can easily spot the short rows in a garment, even if they are expertly executed. There may be a subtle change in the pattern or the colors of the yarn, but the rows are artfully secured with each wrap and turn.  No holes. 

We too can easily spot the beautiful unevenness in the pattern of our own lives, knowing that the turns and twists did not defeat us.  We were made stronger just by the journey itself.  No holes. Life’s short rows are inevitable.  I think that it’s how we “wrap and turn” that determines the ultimate outcome of our daily struggles. Making the effort to view each challenge as a personal growth opportunity rather than a crisis waiting to happen is what makes us stronger in the end. 

In knitting. we can choose not to do the patterns with the horrid "wrap and turn" short rows...but in life, not so much. If we could "pick" what happens to us, heck yeah, we would! But it doesn't work that way and we know it.  So, with every period of growth and every painful wrap and turn, we get a little better at living. In the end, we become deliciously complex...unplanned holes and all.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fixer Upper heaven...

Another Shop I Adore...

In this day of extreme social media and technology overload it’s easy to develop an obsession about celebrity. We see their every move and quickly become acquainted with their daily lives. Each and every aspect of their fame is chronicled for our enjoyment in excruciating detail. I personally am not one to get wrapped up in celebrity (?), although I do remember once being obsessed with Bette Midler some years ago after seeing her perform – I was sure that she and I would be close friends in another universe and time, if she only knew me.

Even though I am world away from Waco, Texas living in California, I am pretty confident that Joanna Gaines and I would be girlfriends if I lived nearby. From the first episode of Fixer Upper that I watched, I sensed that she is genuine.  And you only have to watch a couple of episodes with she and her soul mate Chip to wish they were your friends living down the road.

So it should have come as no surprise to my Texas native/hubby Dave that one of my coveted destinations during our recent trip was a stop at Magnolia Market in Waco. Joanna’s new storefront at the Silos had not yet celebrated their grand opening, but it was hosting a soft opening nevertheless, much to my delight. In fact, the very next day, all of Texas was hit with a major storm, so our timing for our brief visit was fortuitous.

Naturally I secretly hoped to meet Joanna and Chip there, but it was not to be - get real, Laurel..they were out filming the new season episodes! Their absence didn’t hamper my enjoyment of my shopping experience, as I could sense their love and energy following me around the tables and shelves of beautiful and unique home decor.

I remember the episode where these were placed in a craft room for kids..

The Sales staff were trained well...or were they just naturally nice like their bosses?

These stems were my favorite item...
Although the store did not ship (you can of course order online and they will ship) I was bound and determine to bring something from the actual store home in my carry-on. I would have loved to bring home their classic magnolia wreath as a momento, but I was pretty sure the overhead bins would not be kind to it. I will have to be content to order it online.

Dave couldn't resist documenting my visit - he knew how excited I was to be there!

So what did I come home with, you ask?

Only a few more days and the new season of Fixer Upper will start. Dave and I can't wait to watch Chip and Joanne make another dream home out of nothing!

Laurel. And they make me laugh.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Gift of Life

As I sit in front of an immense pile of Black Friday ads from the newspaper, the front page peaked out from under the stack. Under all that wasted paper,  a small photo gut-wrenched my heart right out of the holiday hustle/bliss anticipation that I was feeling and right into the “OMG, this time of year sucks” feeling that rears it’s ugly head.

The photo was of a hand holding a picture of a beautiful young woman with the byline “Out of tragedy, a life is saved.” I knew immediately what the story line was – a young woman unexpectedly died and her family donated her organs to help save the lives of others. I have read this story before many times…different people, same outcomes. And I have the same reaction every time – a flood of regret.

Jon was a beautiful, generous young man. He had checked that box on your driver’s license that allows for organ donation. In my shock that fateful morning, I couldn’t figure out why they worked so hard to keep him alive with such a fatal head trauma injury...why the Life-Flight…why all the tubes and injections? All I could see was that my beautiful boy was gone, so “No, you can not take any piece of him…why are you asking me that?” In my profound grief, I did not consent to his wishes. I never gave it another thought for years.

A few years ago, a dear friend lost her husband because there was no spare kidney to save his life.  And that’s when it hit me. Hard. All I could think of was Jon’s perfect 18 year old kidneys, his strong heart, his healthy lungs, his beautiful brown eyes…all lost. A decision I made in agonizing grief, but in the clear light of day and 20/20 hindsight became my life’s biggest regret.

I immediately changed my own drivers license to allow for organ donation, but as the years click by, I’m not too sure what they will be able to use. They can have whatever they want. Organ donation often gets a bad rap these days, especially with all the negative press over fetal tissue donation, stem cell research, cloning, etc. My brain can’t even wrap itself around the morality or otherwise of these issues. My personal decision in 1991 was not one of politics or religion - it was one of a mother who wanted to hang onto what was my son. 

Grief is strange...I love that it often moves to laughter in time. I confess that I secretly waited for some young woman to knock on my door with a baby in her arms telling me that it was Jon's.  Can you imagine? Crazy dreams of grieving..all those what ifs. But how nice it would be to know, right now, this morning, that his heart was beating in another young man with his sense of humor and zeal for life? It would be beyond nice.

So go ahead.. check that box yourself. Give your consent. Give life.


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