Have you ever had one of those situations that you don't know how to handle? At least, how to handle gracefully? I have had plenty of them actually, but one really sticks out in my mind.
Back when I was in my twenties my friend Beth and I wanted to take a night class at the community college. We decided, for some unknown reason (because we really tanked at it) to take French. I guess it sounded romantic or something. We met an older woman in class and became friends. She was about twenty years older than we were, married with children, and really interesting to us. We started out going out after class and grabbing something to eat or drink and talking. Soon we would meet at her house and visit.
One afternoon after Beth and I got off work we went over to see her. She had been kind of down, and we found her sitting at her kitchen table, still in her robe, smoking and looking depressed. We sat down and tried to cheer her up talking about the class, telling her what we'd been up to, that sort of thing.
Suddenly she stood up and said she wanted to ask us something. She unzipped her robe and opened it to us. She was naked underneath. Now, that was shocking enough, but then she asked us, "Am I even?"
Now I ask you, what do you say to that??? I have no memory of what Beth and I did, how or even if we answered her. Maybe we made like those cats Pepe le Pew used to grab and high tailed it out of there, I don't know. What I do know is that I wish there was a pill I could take to erase that memory from my mind. Maybe it'll be erased when I'm in my dotage ......
In Lisa See's latest book Shanghai Girls she leaves behind 17th and 19th century China of her last two books and takes us to 20th century America with a story of two sisters, two cultures and the resiliance of the human spirit.
May and Pearl, two sisters living in 1937 Shanghai, live privledged lives that seem perfect to them. As that old saying goes if something seems to good to be true it is, so it is with the girls. Their father goes bankrupt and arranges marriages for them to help him out of his financial difficulties. When the Japanese invade they find themselves facing situations they were never prepared for.
They finally make it to Angel Island outside San Francisco. After many months, and countless interrogations they make it to their husband's home in Los Angeles where the story covers their lives over the next twenty years.
See, who does intricate and detailed research in her books, brings to light and life a time many of us have no idea about. The discrimination and trials May, Pearl and their family face would break many, but the sisters perservere and, eventually, triumph. Through it all they remain more than sisters, they are best friends.
With themes of tradition, the effects of war, family and sacrifice running through it, Shanghai Girls is often an emotionally difficult and draining book to read, but I found it to be one that I was glad to have taken the time to invest in.
If you were fortunate to have read her earlier books, particularly Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, you will find a treat in store with Shanghai Girls. My eyes and heart were opened to many things, and I'm sure yours will be too.
As posted last week, my BFF Beth came for a visit this past weekend. I was able to have her with me all day Saturday, and it was the best! We talked a lot, laughed a lot, ate too much, and even shed a few tears. It was fantbulous!
We went and picked her up at the Mining Museum on the north end of town where her travelling companions met us. They went on to see the sights around Colorado Springs, and Beth and I got to spend the day together having such a great time, such good talks, it didn't feel as if it's been three years since we last saw each other!
We had lunch at Gunther Toody's Diner, where AJ works, and spent a lot of time laughing while we quaffed chocolate milk shakes and french fries. She got a little into it when one of the waitresses started singing "Wild Thing" and it was like being 16 again! All we needed to complete the picture would have been some Monkees or Bobby Sherman music in the background!
That evening, after bumming around and checking out the shops in Manitou Springs, we met her friends for dinner at Amanda's Fonda. Her friends are wonderful people, and we teased and joked and talked the evening away.
After almost 42 years you'd think Beth and I would run out of things to talk about, but we never do. No one can make me laugh like she does, and there are so many things that I don't have to say to her ... she just knows. She has always been a huge blessing in my life, and I am SO grateful that God has given me her for my friend. I'm looking forward to the next 42 years!
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Last August my parents came for a visit, which was really nice. We spent one day up in Boulder touring Celestial Seasonings and checking out the town, and we had an interesting experience. Today I received the following poem my mother wrote about the whole thing, and the gift you see in the picture below. It's pretty funny ....
If you find that you are in trouble
And that you need help “on the double”
There’s a young woman in Colorado
Who will do more than she has to
To see you are saved from disaster!
This really is so,
Believe me, I know!
For she came to my aid
One day when I desperately asked her
We were out seeing the sights
Of Colorado’s many delights
When her sons needed food
And burgers sounded good
So to McDonald’s we go
For refreshments you know,
And this is what followed –DISASTER!
It was August in two thousand and nine
As we sat down at that table to dine
We tried to top each story of fun
Of things (in the past) we had done
I got misty eyed and afraid if I cried
The others would think I was dumb!
So we laughed and old memories were told
Memories that were burnished with gold
How I loved my dear family
How glad I was they belonged to me
Such happiness I’m unable to measure
But finally it came time to go
I had one stop to make, wouldn’t you know?
Soon I found I was all, all alone
Even worse, the door to my booth was locked tight
I pushed and I pulled and I banged with all my might
But my efforts, while good, to no avail came
The bottom of the door was 18 inches high
Should I try to slide under? No, I gave up with a sigh
There was no one who could help … What should I do?
Then I remembered the cell phone in my purse
I had never really liked it, but couldn’t have needed it worse
So I called my husband who was sitting at the table
But his phone was turned off – so he wasn’t able
To help me – and then – Maureen had hers in her purse
So I rang her number and her answer was terse
“What’s wrong, Mom?” she said, and I said these few words,
“I’m locked in the handicapped booth – can you help?”
“I’ll be right there,” she said, and hung up
This made me feel better and I started to laugh
Was it hysteria or relief at last?
It really didn’t matter, for it wasn’t too long
‘Til her footsteps crossed the room as her voice raised in song,
“Here I come to save the day!”
And with that my locked door popped open
There stood my daughter, tall, lovely and blonde
One hand in the air as she finished her song
You may think this is funny
But to me it’s quite serious
Let your kids watch cartoons when they are quite small
For it could be they’ll learn from them all
How to save others in those moments when so earnestly we pray
For Mighty Mouse will surely show them the way
--Mary Louise Hillyard
When I was in junior college a book came out called "Future Shock." I don't remember much about it, but one thing that I remember was the author talking about how we were entering a time when so much would be offered to us that we would have a hard time making decisions. For example: you want shampoo, you go to the store and they offer like five or so types of shampoo. But now you go and there is a wall and a half of shampoos, plus conditioners, toners, etc. That feeling when you stand there trying to decide what to get he called a type of shock.
I think I'm facing that. I need some new makeup, and I was looking at a magazine this evening and checking out the ads. Zoink! They have kinds that go on with little paint rollers. Some have elastic in it so it can stretch with your skin. Some say they can erase your age (that intrigures me). Mineral makeup, "clean" makeup, makeup with botox, makeup with sunscreen, moisturizers, skin boosters (whatever those are), "lifting" technology, anti-aging, super-stay, true matching, organic, restructuring, matte, and ... and ... I'm breathless.
Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah, Andie MacDowell, Ellen Degeneres, Brooke Shields -- why, there isn't a woman celebrity out there who isn't hawking beauty products. How do you decide??
I'm suffering from shock, present not future. I think I'll pick out some shampoo instead.
Father in Heaven! Hold not our sins up against us but hold us up against our sins so that the thought of You when it wakens in our soul, and each time it wakens, should not remind us of what we have committed but of what You did forgive, not of how we went astray but of how You did save us!
Here's a good recipe for cold nights. Easy, and yummy. My boys liked them even when they were little because they could pick up the meatballs in their fingers and eat them. They're a little bit sweet and I always serve them with baked potatoes and a green veggie or salad. Give them a try if you like!
Mix together lightly:
1 lb ground beef
½ cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons grated onion
½ cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Form into 2” balls. Brown in frying pan with a little oil. Place in baking dish.
Mix together: ¼ cup catsup and ¼ cup water. Pour over meatballs. Cover. Bake at 350º for one hour. Serve hot.
I am so excited. My best friend, Beth, is coming for a visit! She'll be here the weekend of the 16th--so I am makin' plans for lots of talking, lots of hot chocolate and lots of fun.
We met in 8th grade English class. We were both talking so the teacher moved us next to each other right in front of his desk so he could keep an eye on us. Who knew that more than 40 years later we'd still be talking?
She still lives in California, and in the ten years since we've moved to Colorado we have tried to get together whenever we can, and talk on the phone as time permits. She is a therapist who specializes in grief counseling, and is very busy. Those of you who have read my mystery novel should know that the character of Kate is based upon her. It's not entirely Beth, but is very much like her. Maeve and Kate are the two of us. In college we used to write our own Nancy Drew stories to amuse ourselves, and the girl detective is still one of our heronies.
I'm just so excited. It's been about three years since I've seen her. I think the Martin Luther King holiday is my new favorite holiday!!
I just have to share this book with you! Debbie Macomber's ONE SIMPLE ACT: DISCOVERING THE POWER OF GENEROSITY is a perfect book to start 2010 with.
Macomber, who is best know for her romance and women's fiction novels, asks the question "what would you do if you could make the world a better place?" It's a good question and it bears listening to her answer.
She starts off by explaining that gratitude is the springboard to making generosity possible. If you have a thankful attitude you will benefit in many ways. Studies have shown it makes you healthier, happier, more attuned to your surroundings, and able to enjoy life more. It also allows you to extend that to helping others around you.
Chapter by chapter the author shows us there are many ways to be generous, not just the assumed method of handing money out, although that is one way. She shows how just listening to someone who needs to be heard is a way of being generous. Encouragement, offering a prayer, being a caregiver, offering hospitatlity, why even forgiving someone is an act of generosity. Her words are inspiring.
By using short stories and true anecdotes Macomber supports her ideas in a way that shows you that you can do this too. But she also illustrates her point with scriptural references and examples that tie in with a strong faith. As she writes, "... when Jesus gave us an example, He focused on just one simple act."
I have kept a gratitude journal for a long time, and wrote about it in my last novel. If you keep such a journal, I promise it will change your life. And, according to Macomber, you can change other lives as well.
And if we all did that .... we could change the world, couldn't we?
Okay, so now it's January 2nd of the year two thousand ten. I remember being a kid and figuring out how old I would be in the year 2000 and thinking I'd be lucky if I wasn't dead, that was SO OLD. Now it's ten years past that. If I were to revisit my ten year old self I'd probably be horrified, and a bit fascinated that I was still around.
Anyway, since yesterday was a time for scarfing and watching parades and football games, today is the time to evaluate my life and make decisions about what I want to change this year.
Typical resolutions run amok in my mind. Be more consistent in getting to the gym, eat more fruits and vegetables, lose weight, find a new hairdo that will make me look like I'm 25 again .... all good and wonderful goals. But the things I want to work on most are of a different sort. So here are my resolutions:
1. Allow my heart and spirit to be more generous
2. Be more forgiving (with others as well as myself)
3. Begin each morning with an entry in my gratitude journal instead of at the end of my day thereby beginning each day with a mind to appreciation of what I have been given
4. Allow myself to laugh and cry each day if I need/want
I'm looking forward to this new decade and all the blessings and changes that come with it. So I say, BRING IT ON!!
When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? To surrender dreams--this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! But maddest of all--to see life as it is and not as it should be.
I have been married for over 27 years to my husband Stan. We have two sons, AJ (26) and Kevin (24). We have two crazy dogs named Jasper and Riley. I love my life, my family and have a strong faith that directs me.
Feel free to comment on my postings and let me know how you feel. I always like making new friends!