Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen

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Lumps and scratches on the way to Stepford

oh lumps

Years ago, the concept of absolute perfection was so far from our grasp, that it made the jump into science fiction and horror on the big screen … if you aren’t old, that is what we used to call the movies.  Nevertheless, that perfection looked at us from stunning silhouetted beauties, muscles from Brussels and homes that did everything but live for you.  What a world we thought was awaiting us, as we peeled back the thin tin foil on our new fangled TV dinner, wondering why there weren’t any lumps in the “real” potatoes.

Perfection you see used to be that small silver area where we had hopes and dreams, thinking maybe someday we will have done something or been worthy enough to sit on that shelf, while everyone else can applaud.   Although the time allotted is brief, afterwards we  feel as if we can go on to bigger and better things, having been perfect at least once.  It’s an incentive program with great returns actually.  However, what happens when perfection is the norm and anything less is trashed before it ever hits a shelf?  In case you are wondering, I’m talking about life in this very overworked New York minute.

Life wants success, drive and ambition, however, the incentive of getting there has changed from dangling a cheap carrot to something now costly and 24 karat, something very few of us can attain.  If you don’t look the part of perfection, have your skills in line or live the ideal life, you don’t fit into the scheme of things and never get a chance to show what you can do.  In short, unless you have figured out how to bitch slap Stepford men and woman into stopping for a reality check, you might as well hit the concession stand.

How does anyone learn, experience or develop without the ups and downs, or the flaws and failures that were once built into life?  Satisfaction comes from knowing you did it right, knowing you tried your best, with faith that the third place purple ribbon will be a first place blue the next time.  We may not have been the best, but back in the day, we were still a human race wanting to make life better for not just ourselves, but others as well.  So what happened?  Why do we all have to be perfect before we even try?  Hasn’t anyone noticed the deadly failure rate in people?  Emotionally, physically and spiritually people are just giving up, walking away and taking frustration out on one another… and that makes for a perfect storm if you ask me.

I am not perfect by any means; I’ve got scars from business, love, hate, friends, family and more! However, I see them as what has brought me to the place in life where I am, and they are dots on my map as I move forward, reminding me, welcoming me and warning me, as I hope to attain something close to perfection each day.  I also like lumps in my mashed potatoes, reminds me they are real and fresh, and someone, if not me, has made them with love, which after all is the perfect way to serve a meal.  Flawless may be unique and appreciated in a moment, but lumps, bumps and occasional thuds get the best attention, the warmest hugs and the funniest giggles, so you won’t have to look far to figure out where I prefer to be.

The other day, I used a USB turntable to record some vinyl into MP3 files (not bad for old chick!) Once they were done, I played them back, suddenly returning to the journey my soul had taken once with 8 track tapes, phone booths, silly putty and comic books, televisions with 3 channels and root beer floats and I liked it. It wasn’t the songs themselves that really made the journey complete, it was the recorded sound of the needle as it played in each groove, offering a slight kiss of static into the arrangement, sneaking past the perfect processor of my laptop.  The songs weren’t perfect, but it was my life…which, for the record hasn’t ever been either.  Needless to say, when a well meaning friend offered to replace my work with some fresh MP3 recordings that were indeed worthy of the Grammy Awards, I passed.

I hope today you find a lump in your potatoes, a peanut not yet ground in the peanut butter or one of those great oranges with additional slices inside.  Maybe if you are lucky, you’ll read a newspaper and find one side of it blank or the traffic lights will blink out of whack when you drive past.  Regardless what it is, I hope imperfection finds you today and you smile, laugh at yourself or the moment and then share it with someone.  Life is serious, but it doesn’t mean we have to take it seriously – so enjoy that hole in your sock, broken make-up brush or occasional blemish, because you will know you lived today!


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Eat your heart out … oh, how I wish

kitchenListening to an old movie, a phrase that hadn’t graced my ears in years floated past, Wow…what a dish!  I looked up,  seeing two men forever frozen in black and white cinematography, with felt fedoras and skinny ties, giving the eye to a beautiful woman.  Compliments like that you don’t hear anymore…maybe not totally innocent, but from the heart.

The comment also got me thinking, back to other accurate culinary phrases of my youth, such as The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Again, there I was, in the kitchen with some dishes, this time doing some cookin’, possibly with a someone called good lookin’.  The irony now however, is most of us are found anywhere BUT in the kitchen.  Instead it is the bathroom, where mirror reflected “selifies” are taken for our relationship introductions or comment con-front-ations.  Personally, the only thing I ever see coming from all that is toilet humor, stalled reactions, and a paperless trail haunting people for years – not unlike walking in a pile of ….. Well, you get the picture.

My fondest memories and where the majority of my own relationships started, continued, solidified and simmered were in the kitchen.  I also love it, almost as if I was still wearing the perfume that allowed  me to bring home the bacon, and fry it up in the pan!  Yes, even musically, rattling those pots and pans had value, which is why it is so sad that looking for, and keeping love appears to have been tabled, in favor of poor lighting, cell phone photos, Instagram and text messaging.

Still smiling I remember knife to meet you between smiles, how heart filled spooning did eventually end up in meaningful forking, and when you were steaming mad, tea for two seemed to make it better…if not also put a cherry on the top with a smile.  You also always knew and respected where your daily bread came from, and who brought it home!  Families were never chicken to talk turkey, because everyone really had a steak in the outcome, and they cared.  Life was once  happily sandwiched between making  a family and supporting a household, and we’d blush when Dad squeezed that ripe tomato he married – after all it was mom!

Such odd puns and double entendres may be from a lifetime ago, now silly and trite and for many they make no sense at all.  But they did have a purpose, in a time when you brought someone home to meet the family and share meals.  You also knew when you were walking on eggshells and when it was time to take your medicine, which was in the same cabinet as the dinner plates, unless it was a sick conscience, and then you found that reflected in Dad’s eyes.

Now a home is nothing more than a depository of life,  a quick stop to change clothes, habits and minds, before we hurry along to make meaningless connections, forget important events and never once realize all that is lost between fast food, fast talk and the fast pace we call the norm.  I do take pride however, that even though I’ve been indoctrinated into this new world order,   I still remember when a fried mother board happened when someone left on the gas burner, and a very well-used piece of wood went up in flames.  I also remember when my place wasn’t a digital bookmark, but a plastic covered chair at a Formica table, where I learned and loved life, caring about those who opened my mind as well as a jar of olives.

Once the heart of a home, where discussions seemed more sincere, and answers  more meaningful, kitchens also reminded us, that our stomach and soul were in good hands, even if there was always a crazy cock and bull story to laugh at…which by the way, speaking of hands … don’t forget to wash yours after sending out that next meaningless text of, “do you like me click yes or no” Selfie from your phone!

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Mile Marker …….mine

markerWisdom isn’t something we find on aisle eight, next to the vitamins and laxatives. It is as elusive as a hummingbird, and as misunderstood as the laughter of a child.  Frankly, I doubt if anyone ever really finds it, although many of us, one time or another, have stood in its awe inspiring shadow.

We also over-prepare for it, disbelieve it, pray for it and feel damned because of it.  All in all, there is never anything smart about attaining it – just a resolve, which will prove that indeed something mattered… us.

As a policeman, my father believed in being prepared, so growing up every car had a flashlight, blanket, bag of hard candy and a container for water.  He also had a sense of humor, which was why my Lets Make a Deal purse caused him to laugh with its portable saw, teddy bear, paper clips, drink mixes and hammer.  What the heck … I was raised to be prepared for anything after all.

What I wasn’t prepared for, and neither was he, was that mile marker in the road, which eventually stands between us and our life.  I believe that marker shows up in lieu of wisdom for many of us, to remind us where we have been, what we have said and done, the trinkets we have accumulated, and the souls we have touched.  Standing on that road, we can never be sure if there are miles to go before we sleep, if there will be frost or sunshine the next day, or if we will ever matter again.  That determination, however, is wisdom, and it begs to be respected, forever resonating in our heart if we get it right.

No one in life gets out alive as the saying goes, however, what we get from it is important, and how we share and see it in others is vital.  My father enjoyed life like cherries in a fruit cup; he laughed and smiled, and for the most part never took anything too seriously.  As I matured I found that odd and hurried along my adult life, taking everything serious, making notes, picking up souvenirs, and was always trying to understand the why and why not, all before the sun went down.  I can say at this point I should have stayed his course, because he knew what he was doing.  He also left this life past ninety years of age, in a deep sleep with his left arm outstretched, because I believe in my heart he was holding the hand of Jesus.

Each day is an accumulation of hours and events, which we share with countless others, interacting and avoiding.  We are physically and emotionally challenged, while hoping we did it right, without ever understanding why we did it in the first place.  My personal epiphany on said  journey to wisdom, came after living the first of several years alone, without having someone in my life on a moment-to-moment basis.  That was when I realized no photo, childhood toy, musical selection or food was going to make a difference in the outcome.  You see, the sun went down and came back up, and would have done the same thing if I was here or not.  Yes, I had reached Mile Marker Mine.  There it was… all that mattered…it was the road I was on and not the road I had traveled.

Wisdom is about knowing, and being prepared is a wonderful concept to keeps us sane, but it really has nothing to do with the outcome.  Having a wool blanket and flashlight might be great, but they won’t matter if we end up on a sunny beach.  The spiritual preparation is in who we are, how we accept and better the day before it ends, and how we face any others that follow.  Yes, life is a very intense one act play, and what is behind our words as we act through the hours, and the intensity behind our movements, is ultimately what prepares someone for the next day.  The wisdom however, is in pausing, trying for balance, and praying that next day will be equal or better.

So, go ahead and mark each day, maybe even mark your time, but emotionally be sure and mark the moment you lived, rather than wondering if you mattered.  It will be a very wise decision in the end.

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Is it a brush with destiny or a night mirror before your vanity wakes up?

dreamsAh Perry Como… thank-you for those smooth vocals, which took us along your journey to a star.  It’s a shame that as our subconscious directs, relaxes and reminds us of what life is up to, such dreaming is underestimated and often mocked in  Walter Mitty or Timothy Leary disbelief.  Personally, I think therapists and drug companies would be out of business if we listened more, and watched the presentation in our head, which happens when our broadcast day has concluded, and before the test pattern and American flag appear.

When we let down our guard, accept our faults and open our hearts, the mind is given free rein to guide us along a path we normally refuse to see – and one I might add, many believe is predestined, the reason we are in this life in the first place.  Certainly, there are those colorful sorbet colored palate cleansers, which appear with impossible scenarios, laughable characterizations and haunting fear.  However, even those that have grains of truth if we honestly look at them, once we have rejoined our reality already in progress.

Dreams have always been a source of fascination, with biblical to entertainment value, and those closest to Mother Earth, maintain their value as a vision quest, releasing fear in order to see destiny.  That being said, the majority of the population still only accepts reality after a solid night sleep, often aided by a pharmaceutical tablet or alcohol induced invitation. I might be the minority, but I welcome the nightly presentation of drama, comedy and Technicolor delight, when I am released from the moment and allowed to see the possible and not the improbable.

Mr. Wonka shared Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s ode that “We are the music makers … the dreamers of dreams,” and it couldn’t be truer, even if his version was presented in a yummy chocolate coating.  Listening to voices in our head – not those that appear on the nightly news, but those guiding us, is usually considered to be a subconscious direction, spiritual belief or gut instinct, depending who you are, even if they  don’t get equal time to share the platform staging the events in our life.  Sad really, since they usually hint at possible solutions, even attempting to prepare us for a less than positive outcome if we don’t listen.

My granddaughter recently slept over, and when I woke up she was already awake, smiling at me with sleep still in her eyes.  Laughing, she tickled me with her fingers and said, “Grandma, you are so silly…making all those cookies outside for the squirrels.”  I knew she had been dreaming and smiled, telling her that the squirrels loved my cookies!

Later, watching her play in a room transformed from the bedroom her mom had once slept in, to her playroom bursting at the seams with toys and color, I put her dream together.  Yes, I do feed squirrels, they come to the porch and sometimes we sit and watch them, sharing life’s little wild kingdom with innocent furry tails and whiskers.  I also bake all the time, filling the house with the smells and delights that her little fingers sometimes help bring into existence.  Waking up next to me, she had been secure and loved, and her dreams confirmed that to her, along with what existed in her heart, helped by visuals of sprinkles, sugar and squirrels. Her little world was in order.

Turning off the volume of life and listening to your heart and soul should be a daily requirement, as important as air and food.  If we’d only listen more to our personal quiet, seeing the messages left behind, we would react less and respond more, both to our own actions and those around us.  No one wants to see a drama unfold they have had a hand in, but silently sitting back and accepting our part in it could make all the difference.  That little voice we ignore during the day is the same one that valiantly tries to be heard in our dreams, often going to extremes forcing us to stop and analyze before getting the message.

Next time you question why you have more night mirrors than brushes with fantasy, see them as a reflection from your heart and soul, trying to reach the vanity of your existence, hoping to change an outcome before it happens.  You might be surprised how fast the squirrels return, after you listen to what has been crumbling around you, and how long they stay after you become thankful and happy for what you have around you each day, making it better as you go along.