Written in the Tea Leaves

christmas reading     I was shuffling through my boxes of old photos today and so many of the people in the photos were no longer on this earth, or much older and changed, or I just don’t speak with the person for one reason or another anymore. I thought about how when the photos were taken I had no idea of the future. And why is it the saddest photos to see were the ones of beloved pets that have passed away? I didn’t know this once happy couple hugging in the photo would one day divorce. I never would have imagined this dear friend would die of breast cancer. And I’m glad. Which is odd to hear me say, especially those who know me well, because I read tea leaves. And tea leaves are all about predicting the future.

In the past few months, many people I know are dealing with major life challenges. Death of loved ones, worries about children, health concerns, job changes, desire for a new relationship. Not all of it is bad or serious. Some people just want to know if grandchildren are on the way.   I’ve met all sorts of people, all ages, and everyone wants to know what will happen in the future.  No one says to me — I don’t care about the future.

   Will my friend recover from a serious illness? Will I land the new job? Is a new love possible by joining match.com?  (That one is really hard to answer!)  In other words, no one is leading the perfect, smooth life portrayed on Facebook. (I know you know this but I’m just reminding you just in case you forget and you see something that makes you feel broke, fat or boring.) We all worry. We all wonder. We all want things to turn out okay. We want answers.

The past offers different kind of answers. Looking back, I can  see where my love of tea began — with my Great Aunt Louise’s tea cups. That is her on the far right, my great grandmother in the middle, and my grandma on the far left.  Everyone sure dressed up back then from pearls, to nylons to hats. I’m surprised they weren’t wearing their white gloves. Must have been a warm Chicago day. As I sit here in shorts with my hair a mess, I feel sloppy just looking at this photo.  This would have been a great Facebook photo in 1957. 

aunt louise

     My Great Aunt Louise gave my mother her collection of tea cups. Oh they were lovely with golden scrolls, flowers and delicate, almost paper thin, saucers to match. My mother kept them on a shelf in our dining room. Each cup was different, and I made up stories to go with each cup. (The things kids did before the Internet!) I have no idea what happened to those cups, but they provided me with endless hours of entertainment. And I loved tea. So much so my mother would put it in my baby bottle which nowadays might get her in trouble for people sometimes mistook it for whiskey. I grew up just fine though I think it did contribute to my obsession with tea. And possibly bottles. 

tea leaf reading classSince learning how to read tea leaves at a class, taught by two very quirky and intuitive women who I never saw again, I myself have taught my own tea leaf reading classes at a new age shop. (You probably already knew it wouldn’t be an auto shop.) 

tea leaf reading    I’ve packed up my books and cups and tea and traveled on airplanes to do tea leaf readings.  I’ve had tea leaf readings outdoors as shown above at Sandy’s California house and at a retreat center in Oregon and after a celebration of life in Colorado. A dear man had died suddenly and everyone was shaken and reminded about the brevity of life. That tea leaf reading included wine. 

tea leafAnd I’ve had tea leaf reading parties a few times at Julie’s house. She has a lot of nice friends. Isn’t my tea pot with the roses just so sweet? (I get all my cups and pots from either thrift stories or friends.) I have tea leaf parties at my house, too, now and then. It’s not a full time gig. Just when the time is right. I’ve also done them long distance for people. But I prefer in person. 

It might from the photos look as if only women have their tea leaves read but that’s not true. I’ve read men’s tea leaves, too, and I’ve found them to be just as interested in wanting to know about health, romance and career. Yep. 

cup

     I know it might seem silly to  dump  tea leaves into a cup and be able to tell if you will meet the love of your life or visit Spain or have twin grandchildren. Perhaps so. However, just asking the questions can bring understanding, enlightenment and maybe even some guidance. It’s amazing how in our busy world, especially one where we often want to maintain a facade of one type or another, people are so eager to share, to openly talk about their lives, their loves, concerns and joys. Group tea leaf readings are my favorite because of the sense of community, but private readings  are special, too.  

    I get just as much from each reading as I give. I mean personally, too. All of my readings I do just for fun. The classes I charge, but not enough to get that new car I’m dreaming about. Tea leaf reading always includes not just hot water and leaves, but a lot of laughter, some tears, and most of all it dissolves loneliness with it’s inherit sharing. People leave a little less afraid, a little more hopeful about the future. At least that is my own hope.  To spread some light when life seems like Halloween..scary and dark. And so often the answers were right there inside of the person. Just waiting to be revealed. 

    So yes the unknown can frighten.  And I’m still not sure I want to know everything, including my own death. Because then where’s the surprise? Though it is said we will die how we live. But I hope when I do die I meet up with these spirits who I photographed at the Dia De Los Muertos Festival in downtown Phoenix. It’s called Day of the Dead, as many of you know, and it’s all about remembering our loved ones who have passed away. It makes the future not seem so scary at all because our loved ones are dancing and eating sugary treats and wearing cool outfits. And they still love us.  Now that’s a future I can live with. Until then, embrace the mystery and enjoy the ride. And, if in between, you want your tea leaves, why not. A little insight never hurt anyone. 

 

spirit walkers

 

 

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In Our Own Backyards

Jealousy is all the fun you think they had. Erica Jong

 

It happened this July, at work on a Saturday night. There I was clad in a hot black uniform, on a hot Phoenix night, toiling away in a resturant with faulty air conditioning, waiting tables and rolling steamy silverware, when a vacationing friend sent me a photo in a group text. (I dislike group texts full of people I never met before. Pet peeve.) It was a photo taken in Minnesota of two Adirondack chairs facing a lake and a sherbet-colored sunset. My friend wrote: this is my view.

If I was a truly centered and kind  person I would have put down the fork and spoon I was polishing and texted back the following: so happy for you my friend!  But I didn’t. I ignored her text. Bit my bitter tongue and didn’t respond. But, in the next minute, another person, this one I didn’t even know, sent a photo of San Diego, blue  water with white sailboats. I could smell and taste the cool ocean breezes. Beads of sweat and frustration dripped down my face. I had enough. I wrote back: Stop bragging and take me out of this group text. Then I went to wait on a table. The people I waited on said my eyes were so green they glimmered. I told them it was jealousy.

That last part about my green eyes is false. But it could have been. Many of the women in my writer’s group have been gone all summer traveling. They return with tales of exotic locations. Sometimes just a story about temperatures below 100 degrees are jealousy-provoking. However, I’m not that much of an envious person that I accuse them of all being braggers. I listened all summer to stories about European cruises and exotic islands and strolling around outside, in the summer, in the middle of day. Unheard of in Phoenix. But by summer’s end, I think I had become the tiniest bit resentful about all the fun people had on their  vacations. Or let me put it this way.  I felt as if ugly moles with hairs were about to sprout on my face, and I would need to trade my car in for a broom.

     And then I felt guilty about not being happy for other people’s enjoyment. Thankfully I remembered what another wise writer said. My friend Stella told me guilt is a useless emotion. True. Then I read another quote from another brilliant woman writer.  

                             To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.  Joan Didion

    I’ll take it a step further. Appreciation is the cure for dissatisfaction.  Just as Dorothy learned in The Wizard of Oz when she clicked her heels and chanted there was no place like home. All she needed was in her own backyard. I don’t need a passport to have adventures. I need a big dose of thankfulness. 

     And I found it at the Arizona State Fair. Now please don’t think I’m bragging, but I just had to share all my adventures right outside my back door. Just ten miles from my house at the fair was Tapigami. masking tape    A display of a city made from masking tape. Never saw THAT before. This is just a teeny tiny portion of the masking tape kingdom that was on display. And there are books sold for those interested in learning how to create his or her own masking tape creations. It just might be a trend. I expected little masking tape people to any moment pop out of the masking tape sky scrapers. I was lucky enough to meet the bearded man from California, of course California, who writes books about ,and lives his life, doing Tapigami. He said he has devoted thirteen years to  masking tape. I asked if he was happy. He said yes. Who knew sticky paper could be so wonderful.
egypt     Then, without a passport, I traveled to Egypt to visit the tombs of some king whose name I’m too lazy to spell. It cost only five dollars to see a golden sarcophagus and these cool looking men in triangle skirts. I didn’t even need to go through TSA. For a minute I wasn’t in the same room where they show goats and rabbits in the Spring, but in exotic Egypt. And then I left the exhibit  of magical wonders and bought a giant bag of kettle corn. Can life get any better?  Not just writers need good imaginations. We can all benefit from make believe now and then. Especially those of us on tight budgets. Oh but I did find some lovely earrings sold by the Avon lady at her booth at the fair. They would rival any jewels purchased in Brussels. They are sparkly and dangle. What more could I want. 

two headsThen I went looking for the prize winning jams and cakes but instead found an entire room of velvet art painting.  I bet the Louvre in Paris can’t claim to have such a diverse collection of velvet art work.  Here are those world famous Asian conjoined twins. I remember seeing them in the Guinness Book of World Records when I was a kid and being fascinated by the photo. Looks like someone else was, too.  Imagine this on your living room wall. The gentlemen who was in charge of the velvet painting room wore stripped red and gold velvet paints, a matching satin vest and a top hat. He reminded me of a character from one of my favorite books The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I was enchanted.

    Yes there was a velvet Elvis and a velvet John Wayne but who hasn’t seen them before. Instead I took a photo of this recently departed Arizonan.

john mccainI think John McCain wouldn’t mind being immortalized in velvet. Heck. I wouldn’t mind.  So after these amazing works of art, it was time to eat the fattening, sticky and gooey, greasy fair food. I had fried pickles. More delicious than any meal I might dine on in New York City or Spain. In my imagination, of course. While I ate I heard the pounding of Native American drums and high pitching singing of Navajos demonstrating a sacred dance, haunting and profound background music.  

mushrooms concertThe night was still young. A free concert was happening in the auditorium. The Flaming Lips. The minute I saw the big mushrooms flanking the stage I knew I was in for a treat. I ordered a glass of Chardonnay, served in a lovely plastic cup, and sat back to watch. The concert involved a laser show, giant bouncing balls, confetti, fog and a lead singer who wore a eye patch and a cape. I was still at the State Fair, just a few miles from home, and yet I felt like Dorothy in Oz. Or maybe I should say Alice in Wonderland because any moment I imagined a white rabbit might bounce by saying he was late. And I would have followed him. I love tea parties, too. 

little people concert 1The evening ended with a group of little people  performing Kiss songs. Never before have I sang I want to rock and roll all night and party every day at the top of my lungs along with little people. It was fabulous.  Check that off my bucket list. I didn’t actually have it on my bucket list, but I’ll put it there so I can check it off.  Okay maybe now I am bragging. Bear with me. arizona masking tapeSo no I didn’t get to spend my summer watching a peach colored sunset dip below a serene lake. I didn’t go to San Diego and dip my toes in the ocean. I didn’t sip wine on a European river or stroll the hills of Ireland. However, I did go to Rizona. It says so here surrounded by lovely masking tape daisies. Right in my own backyard was Rizona, a kingdom of masking tape, little people Kiss impersonators, velvet paintings of deceased senators and Egyptian relics.  And did I mention kettle corn?For a while, but thankfully, just a short while, I allowed dissatisfaction to creep into my heart. I just needed to be reminded about my own, oh so very special and wonderful, back yard. I still don’t like group texts though. 

If we open our eyes from our heart we will see beauty.  And fun! Or as  that famous writer  Ray Bradbury once wrote: 

Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. 

 

Believe your Worth

pumpkins     Today is September 10th and it’s 108 degrees here in Phoenix. As the air conditioner hummed, as it has non stop since May, I put out my pumpkin and my Fall wreath in all its gaudy glory. This is my thirty-first year in Arizona and, as usual, Fall seems as if it will never arrive. Though I have seen actual, recent photos of people in cooler climates wearing light jackets.  I don’t think that was fake news. Here it’s still hot enough that my neighbor put up a giant inflatable water slide in his driveway this weekend for his child’s birthday party. Everyone ran around in their swimsuits trying not to burn their feet on the cement. 

Right now on yet another sweltering day when it feels as if I will never ever get to wear a sweater again, except in sub zero movie theaters where I’m always tempted to order a hot cocoa, I know for certain I will get to wear a sweater again in Phoenix.   By November I’ll be in love with Arizona weather again. No doubt. 

I would like to have the same faith I have for mother nature in my writing. I got a  nice email a few weeks ago saying that I received a fellowship to attend Arizona State University’s annual writing conference titled Desert Nights and Rising Stars. (I think that rising star part sounds a bit pretentious, and if I am a rising star it sure has taken a heck of a long time for me to get off the ground).  Much to my delight and surprise, I was one of several writers to receive a fellowship to attend conference and, get this, teach a class. So I’ll take off my apron and instead of serving beer and burgers, I’ll get to play teacher. I don’t think they wanted me to teach Waitress 101.  

writing center The conference will be held in this wise-looking building at  Arizona State University. Older buildings on college campuses always look smart to me.  There will be writing professors and authors and — me. That’s the thing. Me. When I looked at the photos and accomplishments of the other writers who received fellowships, I can’t help think a mistake was made. Do I really merit this? They all look so smart and accomplished. 

   Okay I have taught writing seminars before, and I do know I can write, and yet I still feel like a bit of an impostor. I’ve always felt that way with my writing no matter how many times I’ve had publishing success. Yep. Like a fake. 

horseI feel like this white horse wearing a fake horn. I saw this horse pretending to be a unicorn at the Renaissance Fare last year.  I could tell the horse was disgusted with the entire matter.  The horse knew it wasn’t really a unicorn.  That’s what I feel like. A pretend unicorn and at any moment someone will take off my fake horn and say you are not really a writer. You are just a horse decorated with flowers. 

Gail_Godwin_at_Pawley's_Island_Writing_The_Finishing_School_(1983)

    Now Gail Godwin, she’s a real writer. When I was living in Colorado and hadn’t yet decided what I wanted to do with my life, sometimes I’m still not sure, but I would read her books and be filled with awe and admiration. Her detailed writing, her ability to capture the crazy patchwork of human relationships, inspired me. In the darkest times of my life, I could turn to her novels and find a way to detach and be led into the  imaginative world of Gail’s making.  Oh my how I wanted to write as well as her. 

    Her book The Finishing School made me want to be a writer. But to even put myself in her same category as Gail Godwin … ludicrous. I love that word. Ludicrous. And it fits. (I need to write her a letter thanking her for her inspiration. I’ve been meaning to do that for years.)

neal diamondThe only remedy I can think of when we (I’m guessing I’m not alone) doubt our self worth, when somehow it seems as if everyone else is more talented and self assured, more grown up, is maybe think of ourselves as little lights. Not necessarily stars, but lights like all these cell phones at the Neal Diamond concert I attended last year.  Each one represents a human, a one of a kind soul, lighting up the world and the more I age the more I realize time is not limitless. (Case in point:  Neal Diamond isn’t performing anymore after a recent serious diagnosis.) 

In time, self doubt becomes a luxury one can’t afford. So go ahead. I like this quote from Cher. It sounds like her. I’ve always taken risks, and never worried what that world might really think of me.

   I’ll remember that as I attend the conference next year, teach the writing class, and remember what matters most is what I believe about myself. I am worthy. Even if I feel as if I’m wearing a unicorn horn now and then. 

Life circles

Chicgo     My friend Katie who I went to high school with sent me this card recently. Isn’t it cute how she wrote in the names of the buildings! I have the card on my desk, and I sometimes glance up at it and think … Do I love Chicago? Or have I always had mixed feelings about the entire twenty years I grew up in a suburb of the windy city of Chicago. After all, I’ve now lived more years away from where I was born then I ever lived there. Does it really matter that I grew up in a tract home next door to the Adam’s family, and not the interesting Adam’s family with Pugsley and Wednesday to play with, either. I did kiss Bruce Adams once on the swing set. He didn’t even kiss me back. Just your typical suburban childhood. 

    And then just this week I was reading an essay by William Styron who wrote Sophie’s Choice. Brilliant writer. Anyway, in one sentence in one of his essays, I began to question my attitude toward the entire  first twenty years of my life. Yep.  He said, and he was quoting I think Freud or Jung,  that the blue print of an artist’s life is created in the first twenty years. I had to read that line a couple times. All those groovy and wild adventures I had in Colorado…not as important as going to the grocery store with my mom every Friday night. Forging a journalism career in the desert, not as significant as laughing until I peed in my pants with my high school friends at pom pom practice. No way!  And I think he meant not just artist’s lives, by all of our lives.  

powder puff football

      And then this summer I happened to meet up again with someone from high school, Kim Koburi. She’s in the bottom row, second from the right, kneeling with long brown hair and pigtails. I think her number was 22. I’m in the second row, third from the right squeezed between my best friends, Debbie and Katie. Each year the senior girls would play one  game of football with the other senior girls. It was called Powder Puff Football. I know. Yuck. I’m sure today it would have another title. It better! 

    I wasn’t Kim’s friend in high school. I wasn’t not her friend. We just didn’t hang in the same circles. I don’t think we spoke once. And yet when we saw each other again after four decades, we had a lot to chat about. Though we weren’t close friends, we had a shared history. For example I once kissed Russell Dean at a party, several times, beneath a card table (very romantic) but come to find out he was Kim’s boyfriend. Oh he was a charmer with dark curly hair and deep brown eyes. She forgives me.  We both said if only life was that simple still. (Promise no more kiss and tell stories. At least for now.)

  As we talked, I realized that while she had an entire different life story, the setting was familiar. And I found her story sweet and interesting and important. Of course there was sadness and loss. Of course. That’s part of why I worked hard to put Illinois behind me.  Yet listening to Kim made me want to better honor my own story of my childhood in Illinois. All the years I geographically and emotionally worked hard to detach from my past, yet here I was eager to hear all about Kim’s life in our dear home town. Go figure.

Twins!I began to think about the twins who were my neighbors and my first best girlfriends. I’m on the far left and then in the middle it is Cheryl and then Lisa. (That’s the Adam’s family’s back yard behind us. Alas, no dark mansion with a scary butler.)  I loved those two girls.  Cheryl was a tomboy, she liked to take off her shirt. Lisa was prissy, and very clean. I had the best of both worlds with them. Cheryl would want to climb a tree.  Lisa wanted a tea party. How I would love to talk with them again. Their father died in a car accident and their mother remarried a man who was Mormon and they all moved to Utah before we started high school together. 

twins in Salt Lake City     They sent me these photos of themselves back in the 1980s. I paid little attention, as I was living in Colorado and all caught up in my own drama, of which there was plenty, and so I tossed the photos into a box. Now I wish I would have kept their address, asked for their phone number, kept in touch. The back of the photos one of them wrote:  Cheryl and Lisa in Salt Lake City. Ah well…all I can do is hold them tight in my heart. And know that they shaped who I am today. 

me and kim

After Kim and I sat for hours talking I said to her..what if long ago when we were still in high school together someone would have whispered in your ear, “Some day you will be sitting with that Brent girl in Phoenix drinking wine.” Kim looked me as if unsure how to answer and she said, “Oh.” We laughed. That said it all. We never know the twists, turns and circles our lives may take. As a writer, I tend to be a control freak, wanting to plot and organize and speak for the characters. Life isn’t like that. It’s better. It’s full of surprises. 

Thanks to Katie I’m reminded that I do love the first twenty years of my life. In Chicago. Even if the winters are so cold I still have memories of waiting for the school bus and watching my breath come out in white clouds which now sounds sorta cool. If I could go back I’d whisper in the ear of that little girl..this is your life. Here in this place. It matters. 

Imagining the Future

vision board      This is my 2018 vision board that I created in January. Seven months have passed and I revisited my vision board recently to see if any of the images I chose randomly have materialized in my life today.  On a summer day in Phoenix when stepping outside is like opening the gates of hell, I needed to be reminded of the hope I had for the year. (Okay it’s not hell. But let me say…Phoenix is called Valley of the Sun. In the summer a better name might be Living on the Sun.)

      I was told many years ago, when I first began making a yearly vision board, that some images take longer than a year to appear in one’s life. I always save the vision board from the previous year. When I look at this year’s board I try not to get discouraged if my life isn’t happening fast enough. Why rush life! I used to be excited for the next birthday now I’m like…already? Besides, everything I chose may not be meant to be. Perhaps it wouldn’t serve me well. 

      Also, the heat hasn’t gotten to my brain that bad that I don’t know that life is about choices. We create much of our own agony and ecstasy.  There is no crystal ball, or tarot card, or vision board that can tell me exactly how to live.  Still, the process of creating a vision board, of giving one’s imagination free reign to suspend disbelief, has power to create change. But this is the thing while most the time the images I have chosen come true,they don’t look exactly as I expected. Somewhat but way more interesting because life, well life is all about surprises.

bookstoreExample: In one corner of my vision board I pasted a library, a very neat, sophisticated library . Not at all dusty looking. (And a motorcycle which I have no idea why I chose that image. I take this not as literally wanting to ride a motorcycle, but more metaphorically, remembering when I was younger and I liked going fast and taking risks. Maybe?)

     Anyway on a recent trip to Durango, Colorado in June, I came across a bookstore. bookstore 1It was in a run down old house on a side street. This didn’t look as perfect as the image I selected for my vision board, but it was certainly interesting. In some places I had to walk sideways to get through the aisles crammed with books. I felt as if I was breathing paper. Room after room of books. Nothing at all sophisticated or neat. And very dusty. This was one of the more organized rooms.

bookstore2It was beyond anything I could have imagined. I didn’t plan to go to Durango when I made the vision board in January much less visit a book store. I do like book stores so there was a good chance I’d visit one. Life expanded my image and made it more interesting and richer. Oh I should have taken a photo of the old man who sat behind the counter…well sat behind a stack of books that I think might have been the counter. 

tea leaf reading classWhen I read tea leaves I tell people that the images they see in their cups reflect their subconscious. In other words, the answers to questions are within. Sometimes we just need help. I believe in magic. I also believe in getting regular dental cleanings and paying for car insurance. I think we can be both rational and imaginative. I think we must be to survive and thrive.  To make our dreams come true. Sometimes people give up dreaming and that’s very sad indeed. 

treesThere is  still time this year for some more of my vision board images to to  appear in whatever way they might materialize. I chose this saying and pasted it beside tall evergreen trees which I happened to see a lot of in Colorado. Had no plans to go to Colorado when I made the vision board, by the way. 

I’m not sure yet what A New Kind of Strong will be for me. When I look at the saying it resonates within though I don’t know why I picked this to put on my board, or the little red bird, or blue shutters or a cruise ship. The vision board reminds me to stay open to all possibilities, to remember my  hopes for the future. Even when it’s so hot outside right now that dogs wear shoes to keep their paws safe. How’s that for an image. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographic Memories

 

mom and dad

     I found photos to be one of the best memory triggers when I am interested in writing a memoir piece. I’ve mentioned this before, but I have lugged around big boxes of photos with me through my many geographical moves. I’ve discarded furniture, glassware, countless decorative household objects, but have held on tight to my photos. And now, especially as an older writer, I need triggers to remind me of my past.  As I rummage through the photos ( please don’t assume they are kept in a neat fashion)  I always think the same thing. My oh my I was adorable when I was younger! Why did I think I was a mess? Then I feel terribly old. 

    My heart always does a flip flop when I gaze at photos of people I love who had died. As years pass, the numbers increase until finally it will be me dead and then I really will be a mess…of dust.

On that cheerful note the photo above is of my parents LeRoy and Marion Brent. I was thinking about how one technique for remembering the past might have inspired the poet Sharon Olds to write the poem below. As most my writer friends know, I’m lousy at writing poems, or even analyzing poems, but there are some poems which hit me in the gut and my heart. I always wondered if this writer looked at a photo of her parents when she wrote this poem. Perhaps not, but it inspires me to want to write to my parents via their photo.

sharon olds

Wow. I always get the shivers reading that poem. While I’m certain I don’t have the talent to express myself with such depth and beauty, I might try. What would you tell your parents if you saw a photo of them before you were born? Write it down. Share or don’t share publicly. But I bet it gets the creative juices flowing.

billy

I cherish this blurry photo of me and my younger brother, Billy, taken around 1979 on a visit back to Illinois. I lived in Colorado at the time and I recently found it in the jumbled mess of photos in my closet. (I swear I’m gonna clean out that closet, or so I tell myself each time I go in there. Right now I’m telling myself it’s too hot to clean the closet. Eases the guilt.) Looking at the photo reminds me of my  once free spirit that got buried with grown up worries and responsibilities. Lighten up I think when I look at this photo.

       If I could tell my younger self something I would say this: leave that unhealthy relationship with that jerk of a guy. Leave that narcissistic, abusive, self centered man in Colorado. Not to put too fine a point on it. Love yourself first. Forget the dumb guy. That is what I would whisper in my young ear first. 

I would also tell my younger self to hold on tight to my brother Billy. I lost my brother and it hurts to even see his photo. That great guru of self-help Oprah says,  Turn your wounds into wisdom. Sigh. She’s right. But it hurts.

    No one gets out of this life without wounds. I don’t care how much money or looks or talent. We all pile up the wounds with the years. Writing is a beautiful way to release them. I also would have told myself…hey your hair color isn’t that crappy. Maybe don’t dye it for awhile. Speaking of hair, this photo takes me back to 1966.

women-in-curlers-e1531242247502.jpg

For those of you without a pile of photos in a closet, looking at old photos of strangers can also be memory triggers. I see Jewel Grocery store in Hoffman Estates. I am with my mom shopping. And she has wrapped a perfumed chiffon scarf around her curlers as if that somehow could mask the fact she had her hair wound in pink plastic. I am a little girl again and more memories return. 

Once you get on memory lane, more will follow. I started to think about my high school friend, Chris Olsen, who often went in public with curlers.  She had curly hair but her method was to curl her hair to make it straighter. If that makes sense. So she wore curlers the size of orange juice cans. Does orange juice come in cans anymore?  I had so many photos of her in curlers. I would never ever post that here. No friend, former or current, would ever post a photo of a woman in curlers. (Must have been a man who took the photo above.) I know it makes no sense. Though it was the acceptable to wear curlers in public, women still didn’t want it documented. 

Finally, here is a photo of me and Chris taken a couple decades ago because now I would never hop on any person’s back for fear I’d break their spine. No one my age would let me, either. The days of cheerleading are over. That’s okay. I can still raise my arms above my head.  That’s a plus. 

    I miss my parents, my brother and Chris. But the memories of the people no longer in my life come alive again when I write of them, recall happy times, heal some pain, and hopefully in the process, yes Oprah I   become a little wiser. Go ahead. Write it down. All of it. It’s your life. The good. The bad. The miraculous. 

 

chris olsen

 

In My Wildest Dreams

I would 2

      At an outdoor Phoenix shopping mall there is a giant blackboard where people can record his or her wildest dreams.   Last month, my friends and I paused to write down our own dreams. I wrote I wanted to travel to Spain. I’ve had this dream for awhile and the more time that passes, the wilder it seems. The longer we hold on to an unrealized dream the more it can feel as if it might never happen. We lose hope.

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     People wrote all sorts of things, some silly, some serious.  There was a dream to time travel, for world peace, and to be John Travolta.  Maybe in his younger years. I thought he was super hot in Saturday Night Fever.  But that’s been awhile ago.

    One person wrote marry Tom Welling.  Who I had to google to find out he’s a handsome celebrity. Duh.  I thought he was just some Arizona guy. The friend who I was with that day we stood before the giant chalkboard of dreams told me just yesterday that she’s been thinking about dreams.

    “I really didn’t even know what my dream is or what to write on that blackboard. I still don’t,” she said. Right now she’s hoping to move to a place more convenient to her work, and I told her that was a fine dream. Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Sure  canoeing down the Amazon or  performing on Dancing With The Stars are both big dreams but that doesn’t mean they matter any less than a dream as simple as learning to ice skate. I just threw that in because I never did learn how to ice skate. Weak ankles. Finding a new, even better home, to live sounds like a fabulous dream.

trixie and the emeralds I’ve decided beside my dream of Spain, I want to be Trixie Belden. One year for a birthday, I think I was in the fifth grade, my father bought me this book. (Not this actual book. I lost that one years ago.) This was significant and memorable because it was the only gift my father gave me just from him. All the other gifts, my mom bought and signed both their names.  

I’ve read the book several times through the years, mostly trying to figure out why my father chose this particular book to give me. I wasn’t that much into mysteries, but now I’d like to believe that within me he saw a girl like Trixie, smart and adventurous with friends and a curiosity as big as the Grand Canyon.
trixie-waving-goodbye-e1529104177444.jpgTrixie was always willing to say adios to home,  and travel to solve mysteries. In her travels, she always learned about the people and the places, and food. My kind of gal. I’d like to think I’m curious about the world, too.

 She also had good and supportive friends, and I have had the same in my travels. They all believed in Trixie’s abilities. I’ve been blessed with many friends who believed in me. And her friends were fun. A most important quality. 

trixies-friends-e1529104395912.jpg

Recently I saw on Facebook there would be a Trixie Belden convention. All women, of course. No surprise there. I wanted to go! What a nerdy thing to do, but I wanted to sit and talk with other women who appreciated Trixie’s spunk, her independent spirit of adventure. Her smarts.

Looking back on my life, I think maybe there is still some Trixie Belden in me. A person who still has dreams to see what is over that next mountain, or stream, or valley. Adventure. Spain. And I thank my father now because by that one book he provided me with an answer to who I am. 

So I ask… In your Wildest Dreams What would you……

Go ahead. Be unafraid to tell the truth. No dreams are too small.

I’ll have to read this one next! 

trixie in AZ