Friday, March 11, 2016

How To Be A Butterfly (And Skip The Worm Part)

I recently came across a profound statement that I want to share with you. While I cannot confirm the sentiment of the original author, I have a few thoughts of my own to share.

A Flower does not know it is Beautiful…..but the Butterfly does.

My mother was a true lover of flowers. She worked meticulously on her gardens. She had a rose garden and an azalea garden and intermingled among them all were pansies and petunias and zinnias and begonias and marigolds and geraniums and why am I listing out all those types of flowers? Because each one is different… form, in height, in color, in texture, in needs. Just like US! And each one is beautiful and fragrant and alluring and has a purpose. Just like US! But sometimes we forget that. We forget just how totally awesome we are. Why is that?

We are bombarded almost daily with lists on social media or the internet:

               (5) Hints To Looking Younger
               (4) Ways to Dress Slimmer
               (3) Tips for A Great Smile
               (2) Items Every Woman Needs

This usually all adds up to

      (1)    Insecure, Anxious, Paranoid Woman! (Or is this just me??)

We are all under a lot of pressure to be ‘more’. Whether it is prettier, thinner, successful, neater, youthful, faster, cooler, richer; we seldom feel that we measure up to whatever the standard is. But who sets the standard? And who is actually keeping score? I think we keep our own tally, and score on the low side!

We truly do not understand or accept our true worth. We cannot see ourselves as a beautiful flower. That is where the butterfly comes in. It is the butterfly who appreciates all the flower has to offer.

I believe it is vital that we as women become someone’s butterfly. The world today wants to put us at odds with each other. In competition with each other. Sometimes we try harder to impress our girlfriends than our boyfriends. That is so destructive and serves no real purpose. There are enough outside forces that will shake our courage. Daily struggles that weigh us down. We simply cannot then look at other women as opponents to beat out. Ok, look, I’m not trying to sound all feministic. (I wasn’t sure if that was a word, but my grammar check didn’t highlight it.) This really isn’t about ‘girl power’. It’s about FRIEND power, and how important that is.

I have had my own personal butterfly now for over thirty years. She has been one of my best friends since junior high school. This is the girl, who even when we liked the same guy in high school, let me cry on her shoulder when he dumped me, listened to me rant and rail and obsess as only adolescent girls can (ok, maybe adult ‘girls’ too). She has never failed me. And even though our paths have gone in separate directions, whenever we do get together or talk on the phone, we pick right back up where we left off. She knows me and accepts me for EXACTLY who and how I am. (Thank you Beverly!) How totally incredible is that?

Ultimately I know we have to believe in ourselves. We cannot depend on someone else to constantly build us up. But I would like to challenge every one reading this today to become a butterfly. Find a flower. Any flower. It can be a familiar flower. Or a stranger flower. Just budding, or one seasoned in the sun. It doesn’t matter. Find a flower, fly every so wistfully around it and let that flower know just how totally magnificent and lovely it (she) is.

I promise you if we all did this, every day, the world would suddenly become a much more radiant and fragrant place… flower and butterfly at a time.

Hope Out 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Chemistry For Dummies – (Happy Hour of Love)

I always did pretty well in school. I had to work really hard at it, but I made decent grades. Except when it came to Chemistry. It was always my worse subject and I barely passed the class. Who knew that it would be an issue that followed me around through life?

In the simplest of terms, which is all I can relate to anyway, Chemistry is the changing state of matter. This actually describes my love life perfectly. An ever changing state. And it does matter.

I have recently become curious about the ‘Chemistry of Love’. You hear the phrase all the time about how much ‘chemistry’ two people had or didn’t have. It is a crucial element (get it…..element?) in the love equation. But it is a huge mystery to me. Where does it originate? What causes it? In my experience it seems to bypass all the traits one would associate with a great catch. I have met guys that on paper were fantastic.  A full check list of attributes that would make my mother, and probably most mothers, proud. Good Job. Mature. Stable. Manners. Hair (Ok that one is just on my check list). But still. Yet, once they are off the paper and actually face to face…..nothing. No sparks. No Giddy. No ‘Chemistry’. Why is that? Is it subliminal? Am I self-sabotaging? Do I have defective pheromones?

There is a recordable and actual chemical reaction to falling in love. It includes a racing heart, flushed skin, sweaty palms, loss of appetite and focus. (Sounds to me a lot like the flu. Makes me wonder why we try to so hard to get there.) In reality, it is the release of Dopamine; which is the ‘pleasure’ chemical. (Not sure we studied this one in the tenth grade, at least not in class.) And Norepinephrine. Together they form a ‘Love Cocktail’. (The Ultimate Happy Hour) Which when served up is pretty powerful and mimics the same characteristics as elation and adrenaline. But it is not a tangible substance (matter). It is elusive, floating around in the atmosphere like the pretty blue-green Argon gas just waiting for the right two people to ignite it.

So can we set ourselves up to miss it? Or is it beyond our control? What factors do our background, experiences and beliefs play in our own personal chemical energy that surrounds us?  Can we re-formulate it? Or is it ‘just who we are’? I truly have no idea.

I understand the theory of it. I have experienced the reality of it! I still do not understand the mechanics of it. Why does it work sometimes, and other times not. I guess that is part of its beauty. If we could break it down and re-create it in a lab, then a generic form of it could be sold at Wal Mart. (Too many comments, not enough time.) Would we want that? Sometimes I think I would. Sometimes I think it would be highly beneficial to me to find the ‘right’ guy, slip us both a Dopamine Mickey into our lemon water and the rest would be history. (I know. It’s too Frankensteinish. Plus I would somehow manage to screw it up and offer the married choking guy in the next booth a sip of my water, and …well…like I said, Chemistry is just not something I should play with.)

There are some who offer advice and hints on how to artificially simulate this feeling to try and trick yourself (or your date) into thinking it is there. Sounds a little underhanded to me. But I am not above trying it. One suggestion is to ride a roller coaster together. (Actually this probably wouldn’t work for me. The sweaty palms and nausea would not be the Dopamine; it would be the need for Dramamine.) Another idea is to take a walk on a high bridge over rushing water. The physiological response to both activities mimics the Love Cocktail and whomever you are with will associate this feeling to you. The problem with this approach is having to move to Six Flags or Niagara Falls to stay in love.  

So is it absolutely necessary? The butterflies and fireworks? It wears off anyway, right? Just like that Argon gas, those glow sticks do not ‘glow’ indefinitely. At some point, you still need a good old fashioned reliable flashlight. Can’t we just jump to that stage? I wish I knew the answer to that. I am sure there have been moments in my life that would have gone smoother if my decisions were more logic based and less elation based. If I could just shake off that twinge in the pit of my stomach and go straight for responsible and reasonable. Why do they have to be exclusive? DO they have to be exclusive? I hope not.

Personally I do think that Chemistry is necessary. It is those fireworks that light the way through the dark moments that can tear down a relationship. It is intimacy that forms the unyielding bond that holds it all together.  Of course, I want reliable and trust worthy. I just want the steady hand that holds mine to also be sweaty. (Just a little)

The bottom line for me is that I want both. And even though I can’t explain or understand it, I’m holding out for my very own Love Cocktail.  I can’t say for sure that is a smart choice or one that will ever take place. This much I do know.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

Hope Out

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Relax….We Are In Mayberry (Musings From a 3 Day Weekend)

For those of you unfamiliar with my life, in addition to being a single woman in my fifties, I am also the mother of two amazing grown daughters. My oldest daughter is also a mom and I have an adorably smart, cute and witty 5 year old grandson. Since they live about six hours from me, we plan small weekend getaways occasionally to visit and catch up on life. This past weekend was one of our visits.

We are not elaborate nor do we plan elaborate things. Our goal is simple pleasures and lots of giggles and memories. Most of which are well documented on social media for posterity.

There are always moments on these trips that cause a pause and for the next few moments, I will recount a couple for you.

Please Wait – For Breadsticks

We are an impatient humanity, growing ever more so by the moment. We want to do everything in an instant. There are drive-thru drug stores where you can pick up your medicine through a window. No time to stop and talk to the pharmacist about how a medicine might actually react to or work for you. We can check ourselves out at the grocery store. Does anyone know the produce code for Gala apples? And did you know that you can actually deposit a check into your bank account just by taking a picture of it using a phone ap? How is that even possible? We are inventing more and more ways to get things accomplished at the snap of a finger.  But all of that is irrelevant when we get hungry. For some reason, beyond my reason, we will suspend our lives for breadsticks and a Caesar salad.

Look, I’m not complaining. I love Olive Garden. I have to admit however, that as we were standing in the crowded lobby on a Saturday evening with an hour long wait, I looked around at this phenomenon that crossed all economic and social segments of our society. A single mom and her small daughter. A family birthday celebration. A lovely young couple on a date. People who needed to eat those breadsticks and those who probably should just stick to the salad. Well dressed. Strangely dressed. Those who needed more dress. That one room contained a micro-universe and at that moment we were all united with the same goal. I know, that’s pretty deep for pasta, but it is true. Within those walls were probably countless red lights run and instant messages sent and still, without fail we all made the choice to stand there and just simply do nothing and wait.

I am not going to say it left me feeling better about the human race; there were no meaningful discussions or problems solved that evening. Just a random acknowledgement that we are not all that different after all. At least not when it comes to those warm breadsticks.

And yet..….I am pretty sure if the pharmacist said we had to stand in the waiting area reading the latest National Inquirer for an hour before picking up our prescription, most of us would just have to itch, cough or hurt, because there is no way we would ‘inconvenience’ ourselves that long! Now what does THAT say?

Let’s Go To Mayberry  - Unless You Actually Have To Go

I am just going to admit this, even though I know it will be unpopular.  I never was a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show. (Please stop throwing things at the computer.) I didn’t hate it; just didn’t love it. But the town we stayed in this weekend was close to Mt Airy and Pilot Mountain. Which, of course, is where Andy Griffith was born and the basis for the Town of Mayberry and Mt. Pilot from the show. So on Sunday we went to check it all out.

Pilot Mountain is in fact that; a mountain. It was beautiful with easy access points for an old woman and a 5 year old. Very nice visit. Nature does not close on Sundays. However, we were not quite as lucky in Mt Airy. Obviously it is the off season and most of the main tourists attractions are closed on Sundays. No Floyd’s Barbershop or Otis’ Jail Cell. Despite that it was still a quaint looking little Main Street, even though quite deserted, so we decided to explore it anyway. We did find a cute General Store type establishment and I had a great conversation with the guy who ran it. He pointed out a few other places we could try. With so few visitors this time of year, business was welcomed. Or so I thought. Now, for anyone who has ever traveled with a young child, you know that certain bodily functions often come up urgently and with little warning. We were in one of those other stores when this happened to us. I have never had any trouble gaining access for these little emergencies so I very politely asked the shop owner if we (as in the child) could use her restroom. Much to my surprise, her answer was a solid No. There were public restrooms at the end of the block if we needed them. Hmmm. I don’t get riled easily and even then I usually keep my thoughts to myself. But we are talking about my grandson here. So in this particular instance I surmised out loud that she obviously did not want or need our business that day and out the front door we went.

Once the crisis was resolved we quite defiantly walked past that store front on to the next one with an Open sign. The lady within those walls was much friendlier. Store was brightly. Prices lower. We felt vindicated. Unfortunately, things again ‘moved’ in a direction that required additional attention. So once again I politely entreated with this lady for the use of her facilities. What? Again with the, No. Again with the end of the block speech. Really?  Somehow I do not believe Aunt Bee would have reacted this way! Barney would have been much more accommodating. With no other recourse except to leave again, we made our way back down to what was becoming a familiar street. And afterwards made our way quickly out of town, our spending money safely tucked in our pockets.  Needless to say I was extremely disappointed in Andy’s home town. The one place where you would expect more hospitality and understanding.  I am fairly certain that I will never again venture into this sad representation of Mayberry. It is not a nice place to ‘go’.  

The rest of the weekend went smoothly. We shopped more. Ate more. And both my daughter and I lost in Putt Putt to a 5 year old. He managed (4) Holes In One! (Can you say prodigy??) Well, I can!

All in all it was a great trip. Most of us have memories of trips and excursions with our children when they were young.  I consider myself extremely fortunate now to also be a participant in these adventures with my grandchild.  I love being a MeMe. 

It is always refreshing to see the world through the lens of a child. It is easy to lose focus of what is important or even become cynical with life around us. But spending a couple of days with a child can restore a sense of joy and wonder in us. We can ride esca-vators and fight with pillows. Jump way too close to edges of mountains and eat M&Ms for breakfast. 

Who needs Mayberry to provide a simpler view of life? I have the eyes of a 5 year old.

Hope Out