It’s a Gift

7 03 2018

How many of you are gift givers?

How many are “Hallmark says it’s time, so I will give,” gift givers?

How many are “What am I going to do to satisfy this societal/familial pressure to give?” gift givers?

How many are “Oh, crap, I need to find something fast!” gift givers?

How about you as a gift receiver?

How many are graceful giftees?

How many are total messes (like me)?

For those who don’t know it, I have a very smart sister, so it came as no surprise that she’d have a brilliant solution to this problem.  When my nephew, who was pondering what to give to a best friend for her birthday, Phyllis suggested a plan that sounds great for both the surprise-averse and those who are not wild about coloring inside the (calendar) lines:

Why don’t you settle on some traditional gifts to give every year for the usual events; for example: flowers for birthdays, candy for Valentine’s Day, dinner out for anniversary, and gloves (or some other equally easy-to-get-the-right-size accessory) for Christmas? That way, you won’t have to stress about what to give at those regular gifting occasions.

That will free us to give other kinds of gifts at random times of the year –

Times when we see something perfect right now for someone.

Times when we have a little extra cash and a desire to spoil a friend a little bit.

Times when we guess that an unexpected pick-me-up would be a good thing.

I think gifts are always better when they don’t come from a sense of obligation or custom, but from a place of spontaneity and from the heart, don’t you  .  .  .  although I guess that $1.4 Million Black Ferrari “push present” Kylie Jenner received would be pretty sweet regardless of the gift giver’s motivation!

Wall hanging I made for my smart sister to hang in her remodeled kitchen – just because. Looks better on her dove gray walls than on my cabinet, but you get the idea.

p.s. Thanks to my friend Amy Kelsey, a brilliantly blisteringly funny writer, for her Facebook rant about the Jenner-mobile and push presents (which I’d not heard of before) for prompting today’s composition. For the uninitiated, a push present is a gift to a new mother for having a baby – not a bad idea, but, oh, that name!


Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

12 04 2017

My neighbor’s mother-in-law is in the hospital.

She has pneumonia.

She’s been under the weather for weeks, but refused to see a doctor – until she saw one in the ER a few nights ago.  She is not elderly; probably early sixties. She is stubborn.

When my neighbor shared that news, it was not, by itself, particularly interesting; it’s what he said next that caught my ear.

“As soon as my wife got home from getting her mother settled into her room at the hospital, I called my mom to thank her for taking such good care of herself.” 

What a thoughtful thing for a son to do.

What a thoughtful thing for a parent to do.

Many of my friends and family are proven fine care-givers, going to great lengths to assure the comfort and well-being of those whom they love.  They, upon gentle reminding, have come to recognize that they deserve the same care and consideration that they show others.

Thank you to my mother and my sister, who are amazingly generous and strong women, for understanding that one way to show their love for the rest of us is to keep themselves in good running order.  I am grateful that, no matter when I might need you, your tank is always full and your motor’s humming.

Hurry, While Supplies Last!

16 12 2015

Our days are numbered. We all know that we won’t live forever, which is a good thing because it makes us get up off our butts and do stuff. Expiration dates, finish lines, limited time offers –  these are the forces that propel us out of inertia.

Now, having said that, there’s another part to this idea that our time is limited – we don’t know what’s left on our clock. Lots of people live their lives just waiting for the buzzer, not even looking for a shot at the basket. It could be a very long and boring game . . .

I can hear you now (or is it my own voice from years ago):

But it’s too late for me to do (insert fond wish here.)

If only I’d started twenty years/six months/fifteen minutes earlier . . .

I’ve made too many mistakes to get out of (insert self-made mess here.)

How silly.

When I was twenty-eight, floundering around and doing nothing good with my life, my sister suggested that I go back to college (I’d dropped out after a single semester at age 18 to try getting married . . . and divorced . . . and married . . . and divorced . . .). I scoffed, “What could I possibly get out of college at my age?” She leveled me in one word, “Self-respect.”  So, I went to college, got my degree and some self-respect.

When I was fifty-eight, I wished I were able to retire. My sister said, “If you work two more years, how much difference will it make to your finances? How much would two years to do what you please be worth?” I gave my notice and retired.

In the first instance, I thought it was too late. In the second, I was not giving the clock enough respect.  The clock is running, whether I am playing hard or sitting on the sidelines. With a push from my sister, I realized this is my game and I came to play.

Regardless of your age, position, or circumstances, I hope you are playing your game with gusto, tweaking your plan when Fate runs some weird defense, and always heading toward your goal line. Ignore the opponents’ fans and accept the encouragement of your cheerleaders.

You can win.

You don’t even have to hurry.

Just start.

It’s an Investment

10 09 2014

9-10 14

Remember, when you were a kid, and some well-meaning relative gave you a savings bond for your birthday?

What kind of crappy present was that!   You had to wait for it to mature.  If you were patient, it would pay big dividends.

What the hell was that all about?  Remember how disappointed you felt, how confused, how downright pissed off?  If that person had loved you, she’d have given you something you could use NOW!

Siblings fall into that category, I think.  As the only child for over two glorious years, I was none too happy when my mother brought home and proudly presented me with an interloper –  my sister.  She interfered with my being-spoiled-rotten time; then she made it very clear that I was not, in fact, the smartest little girl ever (she was – and still is); and then she made me feel uncool and incompetent for my first-born-ness  .  .  .

and then, it happened.

Maturity – mine as much as hers.

Dividends of the highest magnitude.

Today is my sister Phyllis’s birthday.  I want to thank my mother for the gift she gave me on September 10th 1956 – the one I had to “grow into”.  This is a gift whose value continues to appreciate.

Thanks, Mom.

Happy Birthday, Phyllis.

Share, if You . . .

11 09 2013

Perhaps it’s the change of season or the change of mind of change of season, but I find I have lost patience with certain posts on social media.

I have a husband whom I love more than anyone in the world.

I was the mother of an autistic child.

I have lost someone, my beautiful daughter, to cancer.

A family member, my sister, is a cancer survivor.

My mom is the greatest mother in the world.

All those Facebook equivalents to “Honk if you love Budweiser,” have got to stop, PLEASE!  Aside from the fact they make skimming the newsfeed like wading in knee-deep mud, they can be hurtful.  For every well-meaning soul who posts one of these, there are other people who are saddened to see them.

I am not suggesting that we stop posting positive messages and putting happy energy into the internet. I am pleading that we all think hard before clicking that “Share” button.  If someone has a handicapped child, they certainly do not need to publicly vow their love via a verbal Smiley Face.  If your marriage is happy, good for you; but don’t accuse me of stopping the rotation of the Earth if I break the electronic chain letter.  If, however, you fall into space because gravity fails, I will apologize – via an inspirational image with bad font selection on Facebook.9-10-13 blog


27 03 2013

Every once in a while – okay, a lot of times – I go off on a self-help kick that usually devolves into making a list of all the things I should be doing, what I have neglected, stuff I needed to do a long time ago; you know, the Guilt List.

I know I am not alone in this behavior, and misery loves company, so it does not take much to find support for this negative self-talk. We get so wound up in the threads of tattered promises we’ve made to ourselves that we end up mummified in the process. I was sharing my most recent diet indiscretion story with my sister, lamenting how a hot date with some homemade ice cream had completely ruined all my hard work of eating right the days prior. Her trusty and infallible Bullshit Detector lit up and she lit me up. “Why is it that you insist on punishing yourself for the “bad” things you do, but you never congratulate yourself for all the good things you do?” Damn, I hate it when she applies the kind of logic that I would immediately see as brilliantly simple and perfect advice for others to me. She is right.

Because it is much easier to beat myself up than to pat myself on the back, I won’t say I was completely cured of negative self-speak. I will say I have begun to actively consider the whole of my daily routine, not just the missteps, and to give myself some love for taking good care of me. Today, that meant something very big – getting a physical – eeew! (I rewarded myself for the blood draw with a teensy dish of ice cream.) Tomorrow, it will be less dramatic, I am sure, but I will give myself proper credit for flossing and wearing my seatbelt and not having another teensy dish of ice cream . . .

When You Give, You Get (Lots More!)

4 07 2012

My sister called me late last month to ask whether I could repair one of the art enamels I’d given her; she’d dropped and broken it.  The piece was a very early work, not one I was particularly proud to have hanging on her wall, anyway, so I was not sorry to hear it was a goner. I was sorry that she felt bad about it.

It’s already July and I have four fine craft shows on my schedule – two in August!  Miss Muse has been conspicuously absent for much of the early summer and I had begun to stress, well more like panic, about my paltry inventory. I felt like I could not afford to give up even one piece, but Phyllis never refuses when I need her, so I did the only thing I could do – I gave her another piece.  The moment I gave it to her, I knew it was the right thing.

The piece was a new work, one I was very pleased with and one she had commented on when she helped me at my last show.  I had initially thought I HAD to have that piece for my August show. It was one of a new series of just a few pieces and I needed it to give the display the proper cohesive feel.  Boy was I wrong!

Since giving Phyllis that piece, Miss Muse has been alternately dancing for joy and cracking the whip.

I am making new work.

I am finishing work that had been ignored for weeks in the studio.

I wake up with ideas and ambition.

I have seven (7!) new pieces completed and several more good works will be ready for show time.

Give ‘til it hurts? Nah.

Give ‘til it feels great.