Sunday, September 27, 2015

The day you were born

The first time I attempted writing about my life was in the ninth grade. Mrs. Burton, my English teacher, assigned the class the task of writing our autobiographies. Of course, my life was far from over, so the autobiography was short, more of a memoir than an autobiography. Although the paper has long been lost, I still remember my dramatic opening, which described my birth day in upstate New York: 'Twas New Year's Eve and bitter cold that morn of '45. 

Quite the budding literary, don't you think? Obviously I was not writing from my birth memory, but from my parents' story of my birth. Were you a joy to behold or a disappointment because you weren't a boy? We are shaped by the stories our family tells about us.  Looking back, what impact did these stories have on your self-confidence as you grew from a toddler to a girl, to a teenager, to a woman?

Our culture also shapes us. What were the major events surrounding your birth? I was born at the end of World War II in an Army Air Corps base hospital outside of Rome, New York. The war was over, but my father was still in the service because he was one of the clerks who processed thousands of discharge papers so others could be mustered out. There was already a first born son and money was tight, so Daddy was very, very happy that I came on the last day of the year because I counted as a tax deduction for the entire year. He reminded me of this fact throughout my life--my brothers teased me and said my tax credit was what made me his favorite child.

Another interesting note about my birth: I was a Sooner Boomer; that is, I arrived a day earlier than the official date for identifying Baby Boomers, which is 1946. Truth is, I've always felt a little like the settlers in Oklahoma who sneaked in to stake their homestead a day ahead of the official opening day in 1889. Those Sooners got the choice sections since they got in ahead of the masses. Similarly, as a Sooner Boomer, I enjoy receiving my monthly social security check while late Boomers worry the agaency is going bankrupt.

What's your story? Do some research and discover what people's interests were when you were being born. Read the headlines from the newspapers. Look through old almanacs. There are sites, like, that have summaries of every year regarding politics, science, literature, etc. It's fascinating to know what was going on in your community and the world at large on that important day, the day you were born.This was the environment and social climate that surrounded your arrival.

Take time to examine the world as it was when you showed up to join the human race. Knowing your history helps in making sense of your life.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Shopping with my BFF

I’m going shopping with my best friend today. We were going to go Saturday, but the Aggies were winning a football game on Kyle Field, which meant College Station was one huge tailgate party.

I love shopping with Wynell. We both like similar things, so we’re constantly holding up outfits for each other and saying, “You should try on this.” Chico’s is our favorite boutique, but we only look at the sale rack now. Macy’s is on the list because… well, honestly, Macy’s always has a sale going on. And then we hit the off-price/discount stores: Marshalls, DSW, and TJ Maxx.

My sweetie says there is no room for more clothes because I have already taken over three closets in the Navasota home and one closet in the Houston condo. But he’s wrong. I recycled four bags of skirts, dresses, jackets, and shoes last week.

Besides that, it is not necessary to actually buy something when I go shopping with my BFF. The most fun is to take different things from different racks and put them together, such as a red jacket with grey slacks, and an ivory silk blouse, paired with several ropes of pearls and silver hooped earrings. I call it playing Barbie, grown-up style. (People in the stores call it fashion merchandising and pay employees to do it.) When we’re through with our pairings, we may or may not buy. After all, the real fun is in the shopping.

My cousin Barbara Jean and I have shopped our way through Hawaii, Ireland, Greece, and Israel. As a result, I have the most exquisite scarves, spectacular earrings, and unique rings. My “aunt” Alice and I can shop anywhere, even in an airport, and find great sales items. We shopped for silver and turquoise one year in Santa Fe, and when we returned a whole year later, three different shop keepers in three different stores remembered us. Not because we bought all their merchandize but because we always make shopping such a party. (Okay, maybe we did buy some pretty amazing pieces, but we left a lot on the counter as well.)

When my childhood friend Charlotte was still alive, she, her younger sister Janice, and I would go to the various church Christmas festivals around Houston and to the specialty shops in Kemah every year. We entertained each other with the wildest “finds” for the relatives on our lists and laughed till our sides hurt. We would hit downtown Macy’s for its after-holiday sales, which was always so empty on a Saturday that it was like having our own private store. Janice still has a Y2K sweater she got for mere pennies on the dollar. It is a stunning designer sweater that should be good for any New Year's Eve party until the next millennium.

I am amazed that there are women who hate shopping. Not me. I go every chance I get. Maybe it’s because shopping isn’t so much about the clothes and accessories  as it is about friendship and being with the girlfriends I love. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A secret worth sharing

I remember having a reaccuring dream over the better part of a summer when I was in my mid-thirties. In the dream I discovered the secret to life, and each night I dreamed it, I'd wake so happy. But… I couldn’t remember what the secret was! I only knew that whatever it was brought me great joy. Each morning I’d awaken with the answer just on the other side of slumber. I wanted so much to bring the answer to consciousness because I knew it would change my life. 

Finally, finally, FINALLY, I awoke one morning and the answer slipped into consciousness as the sunrise peeked through my curtains. The secret to life is attitude.

And it is. 

No matter what happens to me, or to loved ones in my family, or to my community, or to my world, I have a choice.

Will I react or respond?

Reaction is that knee-jerk retort: freeze, fly away or fight. It usually comes from that deep down loser attitude of being a victim to my circumstances.

Response comes after I breathe deeply, several times, and feel myself grounded and connected to my Higher Power before making my choice. When I respond from a stance of calm, the attitude I have is one of intellect and heart. I have an acceptance of what is, and almost instantaneously, I have the ability to see possibilities for healthy change.

It’s all in attitude. Nothing changes but my attitude. And yet, with that change, everything changes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Honky tonkin' in Navasota

We went to the Dizzy Llama last night. It’s a local bar complete with pool tables, dart boards and lots of town folk out having a good time. It’s the part of Navasota they call Navagetdownsota.

We ran into our favorite waitress Kristi who used to work at the Filling Station Cafe and Diner before it closed. She introduced us to her new sweetheart Robert. Tall, blond, knock-dead handsome. The best part, he is very, very good to her. It warms my heart to see twentysomething-year-olds delight in each other as they test the waters of new love.

Our friend Mitch White was there with his band Brickyard Kane. The band is solid now with Jarret  on drums, Kevin on bass, Tyler on lead and Mitch on rhythm guitar. Primo badass and rollicking fun. The beer (and O'Douels "make believe beer") came to the table icy cold and the music was hip-swaying hot. We had the best time.

Brickyard Kane recently signed a three year contract with Bad Dog Records. Soon they will be traveling across the country promoting an album they’ll cut with their new label. Mitch said 12 weeks on and 2 weeks off. I think they will find it hard living on the road, but they are excited about the chance to hit the charts with their Texas blues rocker sound. They'll play like they did tonight with guitars blazing, drums pounding till the walls shimmy, and Mitch shouting the blues and rocking full throttle. 

Just think, Ronnie and I will be able to say we knew these guys when they were first starting out. How cool is that?