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Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen


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Give thanks or Thanks in giving…

 

giver-and-takeIt goes without saying, that everyone likes to be given something. Surprises however, I will leave on the fringe, since I hate them, as do most people I know…just don’t react well. That being said, gifts are still a nice way to confirm to someone that they matter, and it doesn’t matter if they are tangible or emotional, gifts are a necessity…like water in a weed patch.

There are however, two camps in this world, those that give and those that take, each having a few variations, no different from eye and hair color. Similar to physical attributes, we always will be who we are inside and no amount of wrapping paper or window dressing will ever change it. So ask yourself, which are you? I know that I am a Giver, and having been raised by Givers, it firmly solidified my direction in life…that of certain disappointment, and an intense happiness, having no earthly definition.

In recognizing Givers and Takers, we are quick to see certain deviations to their definitions. For Givers, there is total satisfaction in just providing joy, because they know a person so well, and can offer the unexpected. Then, there is having to do something out of guilt, because it is expected, and lastly, hoping to be loved and wanted as much as the recipient. These subcategories are gray, and often overlap. However, true intent always remains loud, clear, and in the forefront. Givers also tend to have less, and ask for little in return, having no problem being last in line.

Takers are another story, and although broken down much the same, there is a darker theme. They take because they feel it is due them, owing nothing in return, or because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, accepting whatever is offered without emotion. It can also be just a basic exchange of the moment, give to take, a time shamed ritual, where everyone feels good for a while. Takers also seem to have lower self-esteem, failing to understand any happiness or compassion behind the process. More often than not, they’re well connected and/or wealthy, abundantly able to offer to others, but fail, instead, only worrying how they will survive without all they have, and how lucky they are to always get things.

Ironically, we don’t come into this world as a Taker. After all, children are born filled with love and giving, it is  not until they are challenged, a new perspective develops. Any adult or dog, can readily attest, if a child is asked for a bite of their cookie, they give up the whole thing…with a smile. Offering all they have, except maybe Mr. Blanket, because children are anxious for a positive reaction, and love, no different from the expression in giving itself. In addition, as they mature, children also discover what special buttons to push, further bonding them to those they care about.

I know I am not alone, when I comment on many drawings and objects de knick knack I’ve received from tiny hands, because they knew what would make me smile. In return, I gave tears, laughter, acceptance and satisfaction, and completed the circle, anxious to do the same for them. In life, that is also the only quid pro quo that should ever matter, because it is far more than legally binding.

However, somewhere down the line, life changes us, and only true Givers ever survive. The others left standing become Takers, unable to fully respond in kind, needing attention and gifts as reassurance of their own value, while falsely seeing their intended place in a family, friendship, business or organization. When I see these Takers, I think of the Emperor’s new clothes. Nobody would tell the selfish man who wanted it all that he was actually naked…because they feared being out of his good graces, a different fact of human nature, which no Giver understands.

Every day in the media, we are bombarded with political and religious figures, celebrities and athletes, all showing what they have acquired or become, demanding to be noticed for who they are. These Takers are applauded, and given even more, by those hoping to receive attention in return…all of them missing the mark on giving, just taking what they can, and wanting, and wanting and wanting.

Like many, I have saved things over the years, those items that made me feel loved, and even more intangible ones reside in my heart. Nevertheless,  the pick it up and feel it variety still clutter my life, and collect dust…like me, as time and memories pass. It makes me wonder what will be said after I die, when people look at what was saved. Obviously, nobody will understand the green Tupperware glass with a melt mark on the rim, the tarnished Cracker Jack ring, complete with rhinestone diamond in the center, or the aged dog collar with long expired tags. I also doubt that anyone will feel  love from a vintage butter cookie tin, or tears over faded scraps of material and rick rack in a vintage button box.

Regardless of my odd legacy, those items gave back to me, teaching that the greatest gift of all, is knowing someone’s soul, and unselfishly making their heart smile – as often as possible. Maybe that’s why I have more pictures than albums, or space on a flash drive, so I could look back at photographed reactions, which delightfully I was responsible for, knowing they forever meant more than anything someone might purchase, wrap or mail.

Religion aside, whether you believe a story about dirty and odd gifts from a small angel, that later became a nativity star or not, you can’t dispute a child, offering a wilted dandelion, favorite toy, or drawing that is colored in a shade or design they know you love. You see, Giving is the purest form of love, and it never asks for anything back, only tarnished human nature does that. So look at objects in your life, those connecting to the core of who you are as a person. Hopefully, the first thought won’t be why the hell did I save that! But instead, where it came from, and who gave it to you. The second thought with any luck will be…yes, I still have the stuff, but I wish I had the Giver instead…and that my friend is a reaction everyone should take away.


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Heart, Brain and Soul are indeed, Lions and Tigers and Bears…oh, my!

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We’ve all followed the yellow brick road in some capacity, as either a movie of wonder, life’s destination or just entertaining a fantasy of what if. Some of the more analytical in our world, even ask where the red road goes, prompting laughter or deep thoughts, while waiting for Godot or Yoda…depending on your out of body experience. That being said, when the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion are gifted with humanity, something already there of course, we sense a larger picture…something far and above a balloon, and movie set, and we are right.

Raised in the 60’s and 70’s, I had parents that had seen war and depression, moved for greener pastures, and always put family first. I guess you could say they valued life, and in turn gave us values of a lifetime. There was also never a right or wrong to question. Knowing the Golden Rule, I followed it straight and narrow, years before it became metric, and nobody knew what the hell was going on. That was however, until I became a teenager and wanted to be beautiful, and there was no movie set, fairy godmother or wizard to help my quest.

There was instead, a family drugstore, where Mom and Dad had been going since it opened. The owner and his wife were wonderful, and played a major role in my life, after I required heavy medication, in an era when it was not readily available or understood. This kind man also allowed us to have a running tab, paid off at the end of the month, insuring we could afford my prescriptions. As I matured, primarily due to this generosity, I learned the best acts of kindness are never seen or given to grandiose presentations. Instead, they are silent, felt in the heart and given by the soul, and if you’ve ever done or received them, you know no there is never any lion.

However, even the best laid bricks of mice and men crumble on occasion, and a few of mine did just that, shortly after turning into a teenager. As I mentioned, my parents were old school, meaning when I left the elementary world, our experiences didn’t match up. It was a time when I wanted to wear mini’s and jeans, which were all the rage, but girls couldn’t wear pants, only skirts and dresses just above the knee. Likewise, I wanted to color my world, Chicago and New York style, in makeup palettes and brushes of Avon temptation, something else never seen in our home. You see, if you had a red dye No.4 lipstick, and a Helena Rubinstein compact nothing else was necessary.

Hoping to convince my mother of the value behind such cosmetics, which incidentally, would be barely visible behind the thick lens of my glasses, I accompanied her to the drugstore and showed her the colorful display of powders, shimmers, liners and sparkles. Looking at all that was before her, I’m sure the once young girl in her memories had a say in the matter, because we left with light brown mascara, a pale pink blush, and nude lipstick. Yes, I had the mother lode, and was going to be beautiful! Checking out was an almost religious experience, and one I have yet to forget in my aging brain…the day the scarecrow in the field finally burst the bubble of beauty.

As time went on, my desire for beauty continued, long after the initial cosmetics were gone. I never understood why my mother assumed it was a never ending well of glory, because she never asked if I needed more, and unlike my own daughters, a replenishment didn’t just happen when she went to the store. That was also when I discovered misplaced courage, and crossed the road of honesty, stealing what I needed. Sadly, there is nothing as driven as a teenager on a mission of self service, and speaking from experience; I never thought I would get caught, because after all…we had an account at the drugstore.

Once I had perfected my shoplifting, which couldn’t have amounted to more than a hundred dollars if ever calculated up, I was in the zone. Walking into the store after school, I’d look at several cosmetics and often drop two, replacing one on the counter and one in my purse. I’d also walk around the store with my selections, removing something from a package as I browsed, leaving the empty box on the shelf. It was a thrill, a satisfaction, and in the time before I wasn’t caught, a lesson sent by a higher power.

You see, the clerk at the store was a woman named Betty, and also a family friend, usually working when I arrived. We’d exchange pleasantries, and I would go off to look at what was new, and occasionally buy something, always leaving with more in my bag. Then one day, in a less than Hallmark moment as I was reading greeting cards, attempting to hide an empty mascara package, I looked up, and knew she saw me. My blood went cold. I started to sweat, and as soon as her back was turned, I left the store. I also never went back to steal. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I expected my mother to say something, or at the very least comment, that there were charges on her account she didn’t understand. But it never happened…only silence.

Now if you are like me, silence is the great equalizer of life. It forces you to listen to your heart and soul, and allow your brain rip you a new one. Some people call it a conscience, but I know it as the oh shit moment, facing music only you can hear, while praying there won’t be a sold out performance with everyone you know. In my case, that silence continued for years, until one day, after I was engaged to be married, and then there were all kinds of police sirens. They weren’t for me though; they were for a 911 call at the drugstore.

Still loyal and conscientious, while working, Betty suffered a fatal stroke. I’ve always found it an odd comfort when people die doing what they love best, as if reaching the end of their yellow brick road, entitled to happiness. I still remember sitting in our kitchen, listening as the story unfolded, experiencing a mixed bag of feelings, as unrelated as stolen cosmetics in a purse, because after all that time Betty died with my secret. I had never acknowledged it, apologized or thanked her, and knew I could never make it right. It was in that moment, that the lions, tigers, and bears all came together, as my heart broke, my soul hurt and my mind knew the truth. I grew up that day.

As the years went on, the drugstore became a pawn shop, the family retired and we occasionally saw each other at church. I now see vintage ads on Facebook, for  cosmetics I  knew would make me beautiful, and I laugh, because it took something ugly to find the real beauty in life…something that comes from a pure heart and compassionate soul. Like my mother, I doubt Betty ever wore makeup in her life, but yet, I think she knew how important it was to a bespectacled young girl with pimples and a flat chest. She also let me tap my heels, free to go home, assured I knew the right road to take, and never to look back. You see, not all courage roars, and not all good witches sparkle, but the best ones watch over us for a lifetime.


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Yes, you have one

friendsBefore you read any further, this has nothing to do with Oprah, or a plethora of free items, insuring that those selected will get a big ticket item she can’t live without, and they can never afford. It is however, about something much deeper, and unless you kicked the bucket in 1970, you will remember a boy named Charlie, and a single golden ticket, changing his future forever. His grandfather later confirmed the moment, by saying, “Charlie you won!”

Despite poverty and minimal prospects for a successful life, Charlie   had already won, long before he found the chocolate, because as we discover…he had one. That one was a mother who loved him unconditionally, and a family, which although struggling to survive, still saw the good, because they had one another. After all, that’s the true ticket we are given as we pass Go, and start the game of Life…before greed, deception, ego, and friends monopolize who we were supposed to be, causing us to lose sight of our future.

Unlike golf, life doesn’t toss  a mulligan when we need a do over.  Instead, it demands we stay the course, try not to be a pawn, and roll the dice at least once on the journey, taking a chance with the cards we’ve been dealt. The problem with unwritten instructions, however, is that we rarely follow them, and often bring along friends, not offering the best advice, or with a decent track record. These guests on our path, can also emotionally bankrupt our soul…long before we realize it has happened.

Recently, a certain celebrity was featured in the news, mourning for her dead mother, a woman she walked away from years ago. Glittering in the public eye, this friendly actress has always been one to follow on gossip pages, watch on television and in movies, and for some, live vicariously through…or at least share the same haircut. How complete her life must be, since she had no use for the one mother, and one life she was given…until it was too late. I would call her actions an Imitation of Life, however, that title and movie have already been done twice…and very well, I might add, with the painful result perfectly dramatized. Because you see, no one ever wins at a funeral, and two are lost forever.

If life is indeed a game of winning and losing, why do so many make the mistake of cutting the quarterback and/or the coach, right as their game gets interesting? Sure, if it was Vegas, the card dealer handing out too many wins should be replaced, but only so the house would win, and not any onlookers, hoping to take what was never theirs in the first place. You see…if we’re lucky or blessed,  we already have a winning house, where unconditional love waits behind every unopened door, and there aren’t any moments of chance. Why then deliberately pass on your past?

The only rational explanation for walking away from your one, the won that doesn’t come with a trophy or certificate, can only be explained as a combination of pride and ego, coupled with fear and emptiness, which sadly, are the four corners in a home, that compassion always sweeps clean, insuring room for acceptance and love.

Nevertheless, a part of me is happy for those who can successfully rewrite their personal story, delete characters that know too much, remember too often, or refuse to accept an inevitable wrong decision ( Hell, we all have uncomfortable history!) That being said, such people still only live a faux fantasy, much like the children that went with Charlie into the chocolate factory, with a fake existence forcing them to perform daily. And should their agendas ever see the light of day, they’ll have no one but themselves to blame, having missed out on not just their true journey, but who they should have been, with loved ones supporting them…even at their lowest point.

Yes, this actress is worth millions of dollars, has vacationed and celebrated herself for years, and has once in a lifetime memories, even walking down the aisle with her own brand of Prince Charming. However, you can’t tell me, that there isn’t a place in her heart hurting, a place where one woman, one family and one memory got removed. After all, you only get one moment at a time…and they never repeat, no matter how good they can be, or how much money you have to spend.

Just as the paper a certain Golden Ticket was printed on, once a page in life is read, all but life is dead…or so says Perry Como. Likewise,  sand through the hourglass, is either just days of our lives, or the time left to hand over our ruby slippers, before facing the end, in a nightmare of epic proportions…complete with flying monkeys and melting witches!  So make sure you do it right, with the people who know you best, and love you the most.

In rock music, one may be a lonely number, but in life, having that one hand, one heart and one love behind you, usually from your first breath, is the sole reason you have for trying, succeeding and discovering who you are. Because when everything is over, regardless of motives, fears, embarrassment and pain, if you’ve walked away from your one, in time, you’ll be the one lost…no matter how much you think you’ve won.

 


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Strike the pose and let the door close

vogue it

There was a saying once, that you were old when you worried about the denigration of the youth. Now, however, it is the denigration of society and the entire human race, and worrying about it has long since grown old. Vogue Magazine, the timeless tome of advertising, style and impulse dreaming, was in the news today, with an exhibit, which confirms that flash for cash is no longer model behavior, leaving behind negative images, cluttering the stage of society. That being said, it also confirms there isn’t any social left in humanity, so along with your exhibition, please pen a new moniker for this world…the darkness where we co-exist.

Newspapers and magazines were the first tangible window of the world, bringing fashion, news, humor, spirituality, cartoons and advertising. Teething on these pages of once mighty trees, was a rite of passage, which gave us the option to share life with one another, offer an opinion or quote a fact. I am proud to have known it, because it is where my mind learned, and yearned for more. However, as that desire grew, so did curiosity, and soon Pandora’s Box was laid open, against waves of invisible communication, offering more than ever dreamed possible.

That being said, knowledge is not rude voyeurism, which is what now corrupts our minds, hearts and souls. Why is it news to know the intimate deals of strangers or celebrities? Watch boils and cysts pop open, spewing yellow and green pus against blood stained gauze, or hear heart wrenching details, as someone dies or an animal is killed? Likewise, underwear is just that…something worn under…and in private,  not something for public commentary! Nothing is sacred anymore, personal or sentimental…because if it will get a response on social media, it is posted, and all the more, if it could be liked or become viral…as well as vile. We don’t dream or live vicariously anymore, we live for quick attention, even if it is bad, or disgusting.

The society we have created, has fallen back to a Roman thumbs up or down with more lying than lions, as people tear down lives with hateful comments or jealous retorts. Everything is now offered for public critique, and there is no end in sight.  Bullies, advertising companies, media productions and our very children will continue this game of life to the end, as it gets darker and darker. People are hurt, some die and some  simply give up, all because of empty words and personal bravado, stepping in where it never belonged.

Lord of the Flies is no longer a book against a wall, but a reality, as we turn on one another just because we can, and know we will come out victorious with Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter crowds of invisible applause and approval. I remember fears that Strawberry Fields would forever brainwash the youth, offering ideas of free love, pot and LSD, music and nonconforming lifestyles, sure to undermine the establishment. However, as someone from that same slice of American Pie, I saw more love for one another, compassion, and roots of family values than I ever saw hate, blood and destruction.

All lives mattered when I grew up, and we didn’t need to make it a statement, we just respected it and one another. Yes, there were times of political and racial unrest, but the foundation my home was on, was committed to caring, and with my open door, open heart and open mind, I didn’t need an open Wi-Fi- signal to share. Life, like everything else, only works when it is taken care of, allowed to find its own level, tended and nourished with honesty and love.

Maybe someday compassion, understanding and brotherhood will again be in vogue, and having pride and class won’t be something held up for comment, but will again define character in more than an exhibition. Then again, we’ve moved so far in the wrong direction, does anyone even care? What I do know, is that Somewhere over the Rainbow there are more than a few Grateful Dead, happy they are not living in the shadowed reality we’ve accepted, and taken for granted.

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My newest on the shelf at Amazon

 

 

 

 


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Milton was a Monster ~ and Paradise is Getting Lost

milton blog

Years ago, cartoons could be dark and funny, and Milton the Monster was just that, in the era of The Addams Family and The Munsters. Looking at life through a slightly cobwebbed glass is probably what made me the person I am, and the writer I became. There is something reassuring about living in suburbia knowing it is okay to wonder about a twin size coffin with matching sheets.

Unfortunately, such humorous darkness is far from the real darkness, which shadows my writing career. I also know, that I am not alone in this world of publishing and social media and the perils are ones Pauline would’ve avoided. Yes, the days of mailed in submissions with stands of hair between a page, to tell if they had been read, when the rejection notice arrived are gone. However, writing along with ability, was and still is a business of who you are, or who you know, along with a dash of luck, and a moment of opportunity. Frankly, anyone who chooses this torture is either a true writer or a masochist, who enjoys pain with number two lead.

Vanity Press as it once was is now E-Publishing, and everyone and his or her grandmother can be an author in a few days with less than $25. That being the case, those of us of that live, breath and cry over plots and characters, nurturing a manuscript to life are often lost in the shuffle between these What I did on My Summer Vacation memoirs. It is indeed a twisted desire; to bring a character to life, filling them with your dreams, fears and ego, only to send them into the world to be ignored. Again, we have returned to the picking of sides for basketball in 1968, and we all know how that felt.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and all of their twice removed, third cousins play a role in this popularity contest, and despite reviews one prays to see, sometimes the book never is, all because you aren’t playing full court with the right press or team. Becoming a bestselling author anymore can be as easy as having a lukewarm plot and have a Kardashian hold up the book, or have it shown in a shopping bag. Suddenly 51.9 million people want to read it. So much for the satisfaction of knowing the story is good – you just need placement…like an apple in the Garden of Eden.

I remember someone telling me the weight of popularity made her crazy. She went so far as to go to school wearing only one long earring. The following day, all her friends arrived with only one earring. She laughed, they beamed and I want to puke. This behavior is the lemming flavored stupidity we live. If it is on social media or television it is a winner and everyone needs to celebrate it. Lost behind are the true gems, never uncovered because they wanted to shine on their own, and not through an endorsement.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if for one day, everyone with a social media base looked at reality and those around them and made a difference? What is the value of all the likes and followers, other than an ego boost if they just sit? Look at those who are contributing to the world, writing great things, designing and bringing to life new possibilities, and offer them a hand with maybe a comment, simple nod or emoji smile :). In turn, as I was raised, they will do the same for the next person, and before you know it, there will be a better diversity of things to choose from! Books otherwise shelved can deliver a message, instructors can offer a new way to feel and express emotion, cooks might have a breakthrough that isn’t featured at Starbucks, and children will know they really can accomplish anything.

I stopped wearing earrings years ago when I left work, staying home to care for my family members. Once in a while, I put them on and sparkle, remembering and changing my appearance. However, I do always wear two, because just like everything else in life, they go better together, and I can always share…if someone else needs to sparkle.

 

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Misfits & freaks of society relegated to the streets find family in Stiletto
learning it isn’t blood or the box we came out of making a family.

Amazon – Lori Kay