Friday, April 30, 2010

Which wolf?

This photo isn't mine, but I don't know whose it is to give credit. Isn't he gorgeous?

Earlier this week, a coworker reminded me of this little story.

Just a few hours later I found myself very much in need of this lesson. I am thankful it was so top of mind. Coincidence? Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as coincidence.

Here's the story:

An old Cherokee Indian was speaking to his grandson: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, greed and resentment. The other is good – he is peace, love, hope and serenity."

“Which wolf will win?” the boy asked.

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

I'm still struggling a bit, but I'm trying hard to feed the good wolf.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Good days and bad

Today's tally:

1 angry coworker, yelling at me first thing this morning for something I was not guilty of, followed by some vaguely conciliatory gestures but no real apology.

4 lovely emails from friends containing kind remarks about this blog.

1 extraordinarily nice compliment from an old man, a fireman long retired, who sells me an ad once a year for his county search-and-rescue team's annual fundraiser. (I've never met him in person, but we chat on the phone every year, and his voice and his gentleness are all Hal Holbrook. His kind words today made me glow.)

And yet, so drained was I from the early confrontation that my initial feeling was I'd had a bad day.

Clearly, I need to change my focus -- and revise my calculations.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gentle reminders

My Christmas cactuses were a gift from my friend Rica, who also gave me most of the other plants I have in my house. She would bring me tiny cuttings and tell me exactly what to do to make them thrive.

Rica had a way of making everything -- and everyone -- around her thrive. She brought simple acts of kindness with her wherever she went -- and she refused to think anything bad about anyone.

She would come into my office every day and say something like, "I love you, Ami. You are so beautiful." It didn't matter that she said the same to everyone else. It was so heartfelt and genuine that it just made everything better.

Rica died of an aneurysm two years ago this week. She was only 49. I think of her nearly every day, and I try to share with others a little bit of the light she shared with me. When my cactuses bloom -- this is the third time this year already -- I consider it Rica's way of reminding me that you only need to look closely to see the good in the world.

"Love everybody," she says. "Even those who don't seem to deserve it. Just love them."

I miss her.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A little bit of lovely

I came across this little chalkboard on Etsy* right around New Year's and ordered it immediately. I've never ordered anything online by impulse -- I usually travel back over and over before making the final decision. But this one just called to me and I had to have it.

I wasn't disappointed. It arrived just a few days later in its own special packaging, with a tiny eraser and a piece of chalk. It felt like a dear friend had sent me the most thoughtful gift.

The fact that it was just around New Year's is probably one reason I fell so hard for it, so fast. It fell (falls) right in line with one of my major goals for 2010: To live a more artful, thoughtful life in small bits each and every day, rather than letting days go by unnoticed while waiting for the "big" things to happen.

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans," John Lennon said. And that's been much too true for me.

So I have this little chalkboard near the door of my bedroom to remind me as I go out into the world that I should seek out loveliness -- and create loveliness -- even in small ways every day. I don't always succeed, but there is joy in the trying, too.

Have you done something lovely today, for yourself or someone else?

*The artist is Mary Kate McDevitt, and you can find her site here.
I like this one, too:

Friday, April 9, 2010

The bob

True love may be hard to find. But a good hair stylist – nearly impossible.

Over the years, I’d tried lots of relationships on for size. Most were setups from friends – “oh, go to so-and-so – she (or he) is perfect for you.” I’d go in full of hope and trust, but almost always come out disappointed.

There was the one who scheduled a lunchtime appointment then made me wait while she ate, talking with her mouth full the whole time. The one who hacked at my hair as if she was angry with it (I wasn't sure what it had done). The one who complained about her new husband’s ex-wife (bitch), and the one who talked so much and so fast that I felt like birds were pecking at my head. That’s only the beginning: It’s a very long list.

There were a few I liked, but they gave me bad haircuts.

I’m not ashamed of my indiscriminate past – a girl has to do what a girl has to do. But I was starting to think I would never find the one. I’d grow old with only my Flowbee to keep me presentable.

Finally, I’d gotten frustrated with – or maybe I just ran out of – friends’ recommendations. I called a random salon and made an appointment.

Brandon was what I got. All 6’6” of him.

He talked softly when he did talk, which was mostly to call me “Sweetheart.” He gave me a wonderful, super-gentle scalp massage with those enormous hands. He listened – and he cut my hair exactly the way I wanted it.

I walked out feeling like a million bucks, and I was smitten.

The next time, I made the appointment, but they called to tell me Brandon was ill. Did I want someone else, or did I want to wait for Brandon?

“Oh no,” I said. “I love Brandon.”

I’m assuming that got relayed to him, because when I went back, he talked more. This time he told me how he was “Jessica” in his spare time. He was a drag queen, and he was making his own Lady Gaga-inspired gown for the next pageant. (It's tough to buy evening gowns off the rack when you're 6'6" – and not actually a woman.)

He showed me the fabric for the gown, which would be head-to-toe lace but with a flesh-toned lining for modesty. And he pulled out his camera and showed me pictures of himself as Jessica. Gorgeous.

Who better, I thought, to advise me on how to look feminine and beautiful than someone who’s had to work at it – and obviously mastered it?

I was head over heels.

I told my husband, “I love Brandon.”

He did not feel threatened.

But then, things changed. I called, but Brandon had changed salons. Utterly loyal, I called the new one. And I went. The atmosphere there, though, was much hipper than the previous one – all glittery d├ęcor and thumpy music. I felt more than a little out of place.

“Just a trim,” I told Brandon. “Start the layers at my chin.”

“Really?” he said, “That short?”

This should have been my clue, but I thought little of it. I wish I could remember exactly what I said. What I THOUGHT I was saying was that the chin layer should be the shortest layer.

Content that we were on the same page, I took off my glasses and sat blindly while he cut.

After a little while I felt the scissors skim my neck. I reached up and felt – nothing.

“How short did you cut it?” I said, my heart sinking because I already knew.

And so, while I’d gone in looking like this:

(not actually me)

I walked out looking like this:

Bob. Horrible bob. Short bob.

"Mullet bob,” my husband said, because Brandon had tried to salvage some longer layers at the back.

My hair was the one feature I hadn’t been disenchanted with. Now it was gone.

I whined and complained, of course, until everyone including me got a little sick of hearing it. And then I let it go.

But now it’s four months later – and I need a trim.

Do I chalk it up to miscommunication, go back to the super-hip salon and give Brandon another chance? Could he still be “the one”? Or will I only end up broken hearted with a(nother) ugly haircut?

A good stylist is so hard to find.

*Name changed to protect the availability of appointments.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Yesterday I got my first-ever rejection for a magazine submission. I’ve been writing as a journalist for years, but I haven’t shared much of my personal writing with anyone, and I’ve never submitted it for publication. This year, I resolved to finally change that.

As I jokingly tell my husband, “You caint ketch fish if you don’t put out a line.” (Hokey accent optional.)

This blog is one of the things I’m doing to try to keep my writing wheels in motion. I also resolved to submit things and to be focused primarily on the goal of getting them submitted. Acceptance is something I can’t really control, so I patted myself on the back for sending the essays in, and then I hoped for the best.

When I was in college, living in the dorm, the seniors in the business program all lived on one floor. As graduation neared, they sent off job applications, and then posted their rejection letters on their doors. The goal was, of course, to get a job, but they made a game out of getting lots of applications out there. The more rejection letters, the more chances that they would land that one plum job.

So, while the rejection I got yesterday – a short, simple “We didn’t have room for these” stung a bit, I’m celebrating my first rejection.

It’s a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sweet dreams

A week of spring allergies that leave me dopey (preferable to the allergy medicine, which makes me a raving bitch somewhat irritable), plus company over the weekend have conspired to put me behind on pretty much everything, especially my blogging.

But as I head off to try to sleep off my pollen-induced stupor, I'll just share this:

It's called Young Love, and it always makes me smile.

The artist is Jonathan Fenske, and you can see more of his work here.