Sunday, February 22, 2015

Short and sassy

I got a haircut yesterday. My chin length bob is gone, and in its place is a spiky pixie cut. If I didn't wear makeup, I'd look like a guy. But, hey, I'm from Texas, and while I may not have the Big Hair anymore, my momma taught me the benefits of red lipstick and black mascara.

The haircut reminded me of my first haircut, which was also very, very short. Cut that way by my older brother with the garden shears when I was eighteen months old and he was five. Actually he only wacked off one side before my grandmother looked out the kitchen window and came screaming out into the yard to stop him. Later, my grandmother with tears in her eyes met my mother at the backdoor when she came home. "I'm so sorry. I couldn't stop him before... before..."

My mother pushed her way inside. "What? What are you telling me? Where are the children? Are my babies all right?"

And there I sat in a highchair eating a cracker with one side of my head covered with delicate, darling blonde curls while the other side looked like an Indian had gotten hold of me, cutting my hair close to the scalp.

Mother was so relieved that no one had been hurt, or worse. She finished the job that my brother had begun and cut off the remaining baby curls, except for one right on top. Yes, I became the little girl with the curl, as described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad...(well, no need to go there!)
The finished haircut was quite adorable. Just as the one I got yesterday is.
Actually, short hair on a woman is bold and sassy, and the older I get, the bolder and sassier I feel.
Might as well look the part, right?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valetine's Day 1955

Around this time in 1955, I got the shingles. Yes, I was a little girl in elementary school with herpes zoster, a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash that trailed a blistered stripe up my right thigh, around my hip, and across my lower back.

You've seen ads on television with old men like Terry Bradshaw talk about the debilitating pain?  Even though this happened sixty years ago, I still remember the scorching, shooting pain.  It was worse at night. I'd wake up screaming and bucking in my bed from the agony. My mother would come in and rub lotion on the blisters and tell me how sorry she was that I was hurting, that she would take the pain from me and carry it herself if she could. Mothers are like that, you know.

Mother was among those women who, after World War II, continued working outside the home--from 8 - 5, Monday through Friday. Like many families in the South, we had a maid who came in during the week, who cleaned and cooked and made sure we weren't latch-key kids. But when I got sick, Mother stayed home with me. My brothers were at school, so it was as if I were an only child, and she showered me with her attention.

Valentine's Day occurred toward the end of my affliction and Mother went to Duke & Ayres, the local "five and dime" store, and brought home red construction paper, scissors, paste, lollipops, copper pennies, strings of brightly colored yarn, and other trinkets that have faded from memory. We sat at the dining room table where we cut out heart shapes and created our own valentines. On the ones decorated with the strings of yarn, we wrote "String long with me, Valentine." The ones with pennies were inscribed with "It makes cents for you to be my Valentine." And my favorite, "I'm a sucker for you, Valentine" was written across the hearts with the lollipops attached.

Having shingles at such a young age is something I would not wish on anyone. But having my mother all to myself as she created a love-filled memory that has lasted a lifetime is something every daughter should experience.

My mother is no longer of this earth, but her memory is alive in my heart, and today, the day after Valentine's Day 2015, she still comforts me.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Balancing Act

I've done it again. I'm over committed at work.

Whenever I get myself in this fix, I tell myself I just need to get it together and cowgirl up, push through the overwhelming-ness and perform. I tell myself to stay in my head, ignore my feelings and chase the adrenaline. Unfortunately, I'm destined to overdose and crash before I can catch the life-affirming high that used to fuel me when I was younger. The consequences are predictable: emotional stress following by physical illness followed by spiritual malady.

I need to face reality: I'm not in my thirties anymore. In fact, I haven't been in my thirties for almost thirty years. Ouch.

Time to take a deep breath and strive for some balance.

I've discovered that in order to find that balance, I have to slow down and pay attention. I have to be aware, and I have to be present rather than racing helter-skelter on auto-pilot.

Tomorrow I will reconstruct my day so I have clean eating options, reflection time throughout the day, a pause button at the ready, and limit my to-do list so it complements a to-be list.

The dopamine release will be calming.