Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Got Ratty PJs?

Ratty, Ripped PJs and Earth Day
Toss ’Em? Ragbag Bound?
Mend Them?

I know you’re out there. You know who you are. You hide in those ratty ripped PJs and sweats. You wear them when nobody except those who love and accept you can see you. When you no longer can abide them or even embarrass yourself by wearing them, off they go into the give-away bag or even into the ragbag or trash.
My favorite PJ bottoms are thin white cotton. They are soft and cool against my skin. They are light, airy. They also are ripped at the waistband. Another tear has developed on one of the legs. I love these PJ pants. I love the way they feel. I don’t love that they are torn. I don’t love the idea of throwing them away.
Today is Earth Day—the day people plant trees and pick up trash and focus—if only for 24 hours—on what they can do to maintain and save this beautiful place we call home. I’m not sure today is the day we focus on ratty clothes, but that’s my focus.
Ripped PJs are just one part of a bigger problem on Earth Day and everyday. We use, use, use and consume, consume, consume. When we have used, used, used and consumed, consumed, consumed, whatever is left—those ripped PJs or sweats, and millions of other items—goes to the landfill, where it joins megatons of other refuse.
My Earth Day challenge, therefore, is to continue to love my ripped PJ bottoms. The action part of my challenge is to sit down and mend them with thread, needle, and time. These PJs—and probably hundreds of other items I own—have life left in them. It is not necessary for me—or anyone—to use, use, use and consume, consume, consume.
What can you mend today? What can you save from a landfill? How can you do less using, using, using and consuming, consuming, consuming?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wounded By Loss? How Can I Help?

Are You Wounded By Loss?
How Can I Serve You and Help You Heal?

What will this coming week look like? What might be some small habits to move me in the direction of serving those who need me?
For almost twenty-four hours, I pondered these questions from my life coach. “Serving those who need” me most often relates to my family: What can I do for ________? When I consider others who might need me, I picture a map of the United States covered with people figures—fewer in areas of less-dense population, but hordes in the cities, people with shoulders touching shoulders and stacked atop each other. As I study them, I ask: Who needs me? I come up empty because I don’t know those people. I don’t know their needs.
I imagine most of them—if they’ve lived any amount of time—have experienced loss, disappointment, frustration, and failure because they’re human and because that’s part of the human condition.
Most of them—if they’ve lived any amount of time—also have experienced love, joy, contentment, and fulfillment because these things, too, are part of the human condition. Such feelings make us grateful to be alive.
I don’t know those people on the map, but I do know several others for whom my words have held the hope of healing from loss. I have shown them that it’s possible to once again feel profound joy in spite of crushing blows to their spirits.
It’s those people I ask now: How can I best serve you or those you love? In what ways are you wounded from loss? How can I help you walk a path toward healing and hope? How can I point the way toward experiencing joy?
It is my sincerest desire to continue my work of healing hearts and making the joy of life visible and tangible—even if you have felt heartbreaking loss.
Please contact me at and let me know how I can serve you. Specific suggestions are welcomed. If you prefer to speak with me, please send an e-mail and I will give you a phone number. Thank you.
* * * * *
I highly recommend Jim Trick as a life coach. He can be reached at or by e-mail:

Note: If you prefer that your correspondence remain confidential, please let me know in your e-mail.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Living, Breathing, Twenty-Nine Years On

Living, Breathing
Twenty-Nine Years On

I stand here, looking at the dates.
March 22, 1979 — November 2, 1986
I am quiet.
I am alone.
I never dreamed I’d be standing here twenty-nine years on.

In the beginning, I didn’t believe I would live and breathe
   this many days.
Those early efforts took so much strength.
A laugh, a smile, a moment of comfort
   seemed far beyond anything I would ever reach.
Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, and year by year,
 I live and breathe.

I still return to stand at the foot of my child’s grave.

Over these many years, I have laughed, I have smiled, I have found
   moments of comfort too many to count and even profound joy.

But, oh, I miss my darling child,
Whom I continue to love.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Snooty Bitch at Publix?

Snooty Bitch at Publix?
That Was Me

“My wife would never get on a scale in public.” I turned to the voice that interrupted my scrutiny of the number 116 on the Publix scale. Taken aback, I didn’t know what to say, so, of course, I said the wrong thing, “She probably weighs more than I do.” I don’t remember if he replied and he was alone, so I couldn’t see for myself.
Not yet ready to remove my foot from my mouth, I shoved it in a bit deeper. I grabbed my cart, turned, and added, “She probably doesn’t do 84 crunches a day, either.”
“No, she doesn’t,” he said.
Two months of daily crunches behind me, I had lost one pound, but weight loss isn’t my goal. I do crunches to stop the abdominal cramps that put the front part of my body in a vice grip. I lost some (okay, all) abdominal muscle when pregnant with my five children. I’m lazy, so I never did the work to get it back. Nine weeks ago at age 62, I had no abs, just some flab that rolled over my waistband. (In fact, I still have that flab.) My lack of muscle tone sometimes caused muscle spasms. When they’d hit, I’d have to bend backward to release the Charley horse in my gut. It was awkward, especially in public, when I’d try to do a subtle backward lean while trying not to yell, “Ow! Ow! Ow!”
I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that’s good for me without missing a day for nine weeks. Therefore, after my second-foot-in-mouth comment, I turned to my son and said, “Bragging rights.” He laughed. I did, too. But my laughter didn’t last.
Weighing My Words
By the time I got to the produce aisle, guilt hit me. “I feel awful. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“At least you fit in at this store,” my son said—a not-so-gentle reminder of my comment when we pulled into the parking lot: “This isn’t my favorite Publix. The snooty people shop here because it’s the closest store to John’s Island.”
Ugh! I carried that guilt with me throughout the store, feeling as if everything I put in the cart was strapped to my back.
Feeling bad doesn’t change what I said one bit, even though only two people heard me. I was relieved not to see the man in the store. I probably would have added my other foot to my mouth in an attempt to fumble some apology or explanation for what I said.
But there really is no excuse. I know the body issues most women face. I’m short and have a small frame; I’m not a large person, so weighing myself in public never has been a big deal. But I know weight is a sensitive subject for many women (and men). I was so tuned into the damage scales and their numbers can do that I wouldn’t allow one in the house when my girls were growing up.
I wish I had been silent, but it’s too late. It’s not wrong to have pride in achievement, but it’s wrong when good feelings about such successes come at the expense of others.
I keep thinking about the woman who doesn’t get on the scale in Publix or in public. I hope she can be gentler with herself about her weight and self-image. I know I will be gentler with myself and with others. Perfection is difficult to attain, but sensitivity is not.

Friday, March 6, 2015

That Voice That Says "Nobody Cares"? Silence It!

Hey Shawn! I Care!
That Voice That Says “Nobody Cares”?
Tell It to Hush Up!
“Nobody cares, Shawn.” The words rang in my head while I was thinking about a story idea, something I wanted to write. I don’t know who Shawn is, but I recognize quite well the voice that says, “Be quiet. Nobody cares about what you have to say.”
Each of us has a version of that voice (I call mine Snappy)—the one that itemizes every mistake, the one that mocks us when we begin a diet, exercise, or any self-improvement program. It’s the voice that cuts us off when we open our mouths or put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to speak about something that moves us, inspires us, touches us, perhaps even angers us. It’s the voice that gives a derisive laugh when we pick up a pencil, a paintbrush, or a handful of clay.
“Nobody cares.”
I ignored the voice and wrote my story. As it turned out, many people cared. My words touched hearts and encouraged and validated people. They let me know that, indeed, they cared.
Today—and every day—if that self-defeating, art-defeating, life-defeating voice stops you, do as I did: Ignore it and carry on because somebody does care.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Got Ugly Hands?

Got Ugly Hands?
I Do… (Almost) Always Have
“Your hands look so old,” he said. I was 20, and, yes, they did look old. I have bony fingers, knobby knuckles, short, flat, thin fingernails, and blue-green veins that look like elevated railroads.
My hands have rocked babies, removed IV needles from a loved child, kneaded bread, crocheted afghans, grown and then chopped vegetables, sewn garments, and written hundreds of thousands of words. My hands have been busy.
One thing they’ve never been is pretty. I’m a few years older than 20, so now, my never-pretty hands also have swollen knuckles and weird, puffed-out joints. They also have dark brown freckles and horrid age spots. (My granddaughter calls them “boo-boos.”)
Only once did I rebel against my ugly hands. In winter of 2003, my husband and I had been separated for several months and my self-image was low, low, low. I didn’t feel good about much of anything. I wanted a change, something visible, but I was smart enough to not do anything radical (like pierce my nose, which I eventually did). My daughters were getting their nails done every few weeks and French manicures were popular.
I didn’t have enough nails to become French or any other ethnicity, but I decided to get acrylic nails—fake nails. It was kind of scary the first time I had them done. I was aghast when the nail tech actually sanded my existing nails. The smells in the shop were noxious and I wondered why only the techs wore masks. I wanted one, too. But I wanted pretty hands more.
Sanding, buffing, adding, filling, filing, and polishing created my nails, long nails—nails that kind of sort of looked real. I loved them! I felt crummy about so many things, but when I looked at my hands, I didn’t have ugly hands. I liked not having ugly hands and felt better about that one thing. I decided to keep “my” nails.
That all changed when spring arrived and I began feeling positive about other aspects of my life. Winter was over and I went outside to play in the dirt. But the soil, water, and activity wreaked havoc with my “pretty hands and nails.” Dirt crusted and congregated beneath, around, and inside those fake nails. I couldn’t scrub it off.
As I continued to dig and trim and weed and plant, I realized I felt better about myself—in spite of once again having nasty fingernails. I had made it through that first winter of separation. I had survived. Better—I was beginning to thrive.
As the nails came loose, I peeled them off, and let my real nails grow. My hands hadn’t changed; they still were old looking and ugly. Nor had any other aspects of my appearance changed. But I had changed inside. I was ready to do more, to feel more, to be more.
I don’t regret my six months of pretty hands and fingernails. I needed that boost to feel better about one aspect of my life. It was worth it.
When going through life transitions, it’s important to find even one little thing that can help you feel better, something that can “hold your hand” as you walk toward a new, and even improved, life.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Afraid of Polyester? You Bet!

Polyester Scares Me
Old age scares me. I’m old, but not that old . . . yet. However, the usual old-age stuff—isolation, my kids getting back at me for all those times I . . . (never mind), being feeble, no driving, smelling like old people—doesn’t scare me as much as some things.
Polyester scares me. Not now, it doesn’t scare me, but like I said, I’m not that old . . . yet. At my current age, I can spot polyester on clothing and bedding tags and avoid it. I have been hoodwinked a few times and purchased what I thought was the smooth, non-irritating texture of cotton. Moments after I place such garments on my body, the itch and sweat dance begins. My body rebels at polyester. My surface cells squirm and twitch when it touches my bare skin—even when it’s only 10 percent or 20 percent or 30 percent. “Quick! Quick! Quick! Get it off!” my epidermis demands. I remove the offending garment and don 100 percent cotton. My skin relaxes, the twitch stops, the itch is gone, the sweat dries.
I’ve been fooled into thinking something is cotton, so I am afraid that when I’m feeble and cannot communicate, some well-meaning person might also think a garment is cotton and put it on me. I will twitch, itch, and squirm, and won’t be able to let someone know what’s wrong. I’ll then sweat until the garment is sopped or I’ll have to drench myself in spit-up or drool until they are forced into changing me. If the replacement garment also is polyester, they might smear some antiperspirant on me (another thing I can’t stand) or even add a bib in an effort to keep me from fouling yet another outfit.
People need living wills and other documents so loved ones (and the legal system) know what they want when they’re no longer able to communicate. I think a personal preference document also is a good idea. The first item on mine will be: “No polyester, under any circumstances. Read all clothing and bedding labels and avoid polyester at all costs.” The next item will be: “No antiperspirants.” An additional note will follow: “If antiperspirants seem necessary, please re-check clothing content and discard all garments with even the smallest percentage of polyester.”